A better way to ice burned fingers

From Kip:

A friend’s 2 year-old touched a hot stove burner. Our friend immediately started trying to put the hurt fingers under cold water, but the child wriggled and protested that the cold water didn’t feel good.

The child’s grandma quickly put some ice cubes and a little water in a bowl, and mother sat with the child on her lap. The child immediately wanted to play with the ice, and spent the next five or ten minutes handling the ice with her burned fingers, splashing in the water, comparing the size of ice pieces.

She’ll have a couple of blisters for a while, but this inspired solution ensured that she kept the cold on those fingers for a good bit of time when it mattered. Hooray for Grandmas!

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  1. Dan says

    While I think that is a great way to get a child to “play” with the ice, I’ve heard that ice may actually cause a burn to take longer to heal.

    I’ve also heard that putting some salt in the water helps soothe.

    Maybe put a few goldfish crackers into a bowl with cool, salted water would do the trick?

    From kidshealth.com:

    For First-Degree Burns:

    * Remove the child from the heat source.
    * Remove clothing from the burned area immediately.
    * Run cool (not cold) water over the burned area (if water isn’t available, any cold, drinkable fluid can be used) or hold a clean, cold compress on the burn for approximately 3 to 5 minutes (do not use ice, as it may cause the burn to take longer to heal).
    * Do not apply butter, grease, powder, or any other remedies to the burn, as these increase the risk of infection.
    * If the burned area is small, loosely cover it with a sterile gauze pad or bandage.
    * Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
    * If the area affected is small (the size of a quarter or smaller), keep the area clean and continue to use cool compresses and a loose dressing over the next 24 hours. You can also apply antibiotic cream two to three times a day, although this isn’t absolutely necessary.

  2. says

    My mom was priceless when it came time to ice down a HUGE bump on my son’s head. He had stayed up WAY past his bedtime and in an effort to not fall asleep, he started jumping around, and ended up jumping full foce, head first into a door with ridges on it, causing two huge bruises on his head. The trick that mom came up with was counting to 10 while the ice was on, so it would come off at a known time. After a couple rounds of this my 2 nearly three year old was wanting to hold the ice on all by himself while we all counted together. Distraction is magic (but only when it works)!

  3. says

    I don’t know if it’s “the right” thing to use, but the last time I gave myself a good burn on the stove (which happens frequently) I put some desitin on it, and it totally helped-it stopped hurting, and helped it heal up. (To my eyes)

    Aside from the smell, this worked a lot better than water. But I don’t know if it’s an ok thing to do.

  4. kytyn says

    I recently burned my finger making tea (don’t ask!) and ended up putting it in a bowl of water with just enough ice to keep it cool. When showing it off to a friend he related a story to me of a girl he’d met who had her whole arm burned badly when she was young. Her dad filled the tub with ice water and had her hold it under for a long time. (It was my understanding they weren’t near a hospital.) What really struck my friend is that the arm was now normal – up to the point where it wasn’t submerged. The part that had been above the water had obvious scar tissue! It impressed on him (and now me) on getting the skin temperture back down quickly. Cool water (not straight ice but I think the idea of some ice in the water to play with and keep the water cool is fine) for 20-30 minutes.
    Now, does someone have a cure for a paper cut? (don’t ask :)

  5. says

    I keep aloe vera plants to use on burns. I once took a very hot, glass casserole pan out of the oven using both hands but only one pot-holder. While one half of my brain was yelling, “Put it down!”, the other half was yelling, “Don’t drop it!”. I rushed to one of the aloe vera plants, snapped a piece off, and slathered the goo all over my hot hand. It did the trick. The coolness of the goo helped with the heat and I never blistered.

  6. says

    Ditto on the cool water and aloe!

    We keep a bottle of aloe gel with lidocaine, sold under the brand name Solarcaine Aloe Extra Burn Relief Gel, in the fridge for the occasional burn. It works well on kids past the stage of tasting things you put on them. (Lidocaine is used as a topical oral anesthetic, but it’s not something you should unintentionally ingest.)

  7. jinx says

    When I took first aid years ago, I was told never to run a burn under water, as any forming blisters may burst, thereby ruining the sterility of the area and risking an infection. A cool bowl of water with an ice cube or two to maintain the temperature would seem perfect to keep the burned area cool.

  8. AD says

    Ice in water is fine. Ice (or anything frozen) straight on the skin isn’t recommended because it can damage the skin (frostbite) and/or stick to it and pull it off.

    The recommendation above about taking the clothes off immediately is ONLY for first degree burns. If it’s a serious burn, it’s best to leave the clothes ON, put the person in a tepid/lukewarm shower and call 911.

  9. says

    For minor burns (and paper cuts) Aquaphor ointment speeds healing time.

    When my friend’s toddler grabbed a curling iron (long story- but I should note that my friend was neither the owner of the curling iron and wasn’t aware it was in the house much less left plugged in and unattended in toddler reach), she couldn’t get him to let her apply ice.

    She (being clever in addition to being a nurse) gave him a freezer pop with a paper towel cover and he happily held the popsicle until it was finished.

    Moral of the long story that I didn’t tell: Don’t assume that visitors have a toddler/baby awareness even if they have young children of their own and should know better.

  10. says

    Thank you, Parent Hacks!

    If I had not read this hack last week, I wouldn’t have had the slightest idea how to care for my son. He touched a portable heater yesterday and hurt his poor tiny fingers.

    So thank you thank you thank you for posting this. I can’t thank you enough.

    Now.. if only there was a quick and easy remedy for mommy-guilt.

  11. says

    A daycare trick that works really well: have them hold onto a freezie and after a few minutes, open it and let them eat it. The only bad side-effect is that your kid may be claiming to hurt themselves to get a freezie for a few days afterward!

  12. Christie says

    I’m not sure how well this would work for kids since I don’t have any of my own yet, but anytime I burn myself (on something in the kitchen or with my flat iron) I use Mela-Gel first aid topical gel from Melaleuca, Inc. immediately. I never get blisters, and the pain and burning sensation are gone almost instantly. I think this would work for kids, but the affected area would probably need some kind of bandage to keep the child from rubbing off the gel for a little while. This is my go-to remedy for burns – hopefully it will help someone else!