It's summer – and summer means grilling burgers, making campfires, lighting fireworks, and building bonfires on the beach. And while all of these activities are immensely fun, they are all the perfect premise for a second-degree burn – the nasty kind that break the skin and cause swelling or blisters. If you don't treat a second-degree burn, the result can be infection, persistent pain, and scarring.
What to do? First, rinse the area immediately in cool, not cold water. Never apply ice. Next, clean the wound gently with soap and water – don't be tempted to pop blisters. Finally, pat the skin dry with a clean cloth or gauze, and apply a topical cream that can help prevent pain and scarring.
Don't have burn cream in your medicine cabinet? You need one. "The problem with a burn is that, if you want immediate pain relief and don't want a scar down the road, you need to apply something that can do both right away," says Dr. Diane Madfes, a New York City dermatologist. Waiting a few hours to treat a burn, she says, delays healing and can lead to lasting pain.
Yet not any standard first-aid paste will do. Antibiotic creams like Neosporin can help stop infection, but they don't prevent pain or scarring; first-aid burn creams only relieve pain. To do all three, you need a product like Burn Cream MD, which Madfes developed while waitressing (and treating burns) in med school. Unlike other topical solutions, Burn Cream MD contains antioxidants like aloe vera and vitamin E to help prevent scarring; plus, it's actually a lotion, not a cream, so it doesn't cause irritation when going on. And even though many a pro chef would consider cooking scars to be badges of honor, is it any surprise that Mario Batali and Emeril say they use Burn Cream MD in their home kitchens? [$30, burncreammd.com]