Do’s and Don’ts of Treating Burns: Should You Pop a Burn Blister?

Do's and Don'ts for Treating Burns: Should You Pop a Burn Blister?

Burns can cause serious skin wounds that need proper treatment to prevent complications as the burn wound heals. If the burn is severe, you may end up having one or more burn blisters as the wound heals. You should always avoid popping a burn blister because the wound could become easily infected.

Knowing the best methods for treating burns will help to speed up recovery time. Running the wound under cold water or applying damp cold compresses are usually the best first-aid treatments for mild to moderate burns. Depending on the severity of burn wound, you may also need to put a dressing and bandage on the wound. This is especially important if the burn blister has broken.

In this article, you will find out the best ways to treat burns to make sure your skin recovers properly. Also, I will discuss what you should never do if you have suffered a burn. You will also find out the medical reasons why you shouldn’t pop a burn blister.

What is a Burn Blister?

Burn blisters usually appear after a second-degree burn to your skin. Dr. Benjamin Wedro on MedicineNet says that blistering from severe burns will be accompanied by pain, redness, and inflammation. It is also possible that burn blisters only appear later as the burn wound continues to affect the skin.1

According to the journal Burns & Trauma, burn blisters occur because the top layer of skin (the epidermis) is destroyed. Burn blister fluids are essential to help the skin regenerate and grow back again. The fluids that fill burn blisters contain red blood cells and proteins that are essential in the wound healing process.2

If the burn is very severe and deep, there may be permanent damage to the deeper layer of the skin. This can result in scarring, changes in your skin color, and loss of hair from the burned area. The Indian Journal of Dermatology reported that sometimes, damage caused by a very severe burn can continue to appear years after the burn wound has healed.3

Should You Pop a Burn Blister?

Most doctors agree that you should never pop a burn blister yourself.

Doctors from the National Health Service (NHS) say that popping a blister at home can lead to secondary skin infections. These infections can affect the burn wound and can be more complicated to treat properly. When treating burns that have blistered, you should be careful not to burst the blister.4

Does this mean that a burn blister should never be popped in any circumstance? The NHS says that in some cases medical professionals may drain large burn blisters or blisters that are liable to burst. In some cases, doctors may remove the top layer of the blister. However, you shouldn’t burst blisters yourself.4

In any case, doctors recommend that you seek medical advice if second or third-degree burns have resulted in skin blistering.

How Long Does It Take for a Burn Blister to Heal?

According to medical experts on burn traumas, second-degree burns will take around 2-3 weeks to heal completely. However, much depends on the severity of the burn and how well you treat and care for the burns.

For example, researchers say that in the first 3 days after a bad burn, the burn wound is still in a “dynamic state.” This means that the burn may continue to get worse during these days. This is often the case with sunburn blisters where they usually appear the day after. With the proper treatment, burns should heal in 10-14 days.2

However, the Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery reports that some type of burn wounds can take several weeks to heal completely.6

How to Treat a Burn Blister

If you get burned and the skin blisters, you should be very careful not to break the blister. Treating a burn blister requires delicate care and attention.

Doctors from WebMD say that the first step in treating a burn blister is to gently run cool water over the burn blister for 15-30 minutes to prevent the burn becoming more serious. It is also important to avoid using iced water as ice can damage the sensitive layer of skin even more.5

Treating a burn blister that hasn’t popped may require nothing more than just gentle cleaning to prevent infection. If there is a likelihood that the blister could burst, then doctors recommend applying a sterile dressing and bandage to the wound (make sure to wash your hands first before touching the burn to avoid infection).

What Do You Put on a Burn Blister After It Pops?

If a burn blister pops and the fluid drains out, it’s important to cover the area with a dressing to keep germs away from the wound.

Doctors from WebMD say that you should apply a clean bandage to a burn blister that has broken. First, you can apply an antibiotic cream and then put a clean bandage on the wound. The bandage can be changed every 24 hours and if it has stuck to the wound, you should soak it in warm water before removing.5

Researchers from the University of Maryland say that you can apply some honey to broken burn blisters in place of an antibiotic cream. Honey has antibacterial properties and can help to naturally prevent burn blisters becoming infected.7

What to Do When You Get Burned

If you suffer a first, second, or third-degree burn, it’s important to follow the proper first aid to speed up recovery.

The first step to take when you get burned is to apply cool water to the injured skin. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend that you do the following for burns:8

Cool the affected area. For first and second-degree burns you should run the burned area under cool water for at least 15 minutes. This will help to slow down the progression of the burn.

For larger areas or parts of your body that you can’t put under cool water, you can use a cool, damp towel to cool the burn.

Remove anything tight. Second-degree burn can cause swelling in the injured area. Therefore, you should remove any rings or tight clothing before any swelling occurs.

Treat the burn properly. Apply aloe vera gel or honey to the burn injury to help boost the healing process. Keeping the wound moist with natural antibacterial ointments will prevent infections developing and quicken the healing process. Then apply a non-stick gauze or dressing.

Elevate the area. For larger burns that are painful, try to keep the limb or part of your body elevated as much as possible.

Third-degree burns require prompt medical attention. A third-degree burn or full-thickness burn will look like the skin is white or charred. The wound may also be painless if the nerve endings in your skin have been damaged.

How to Take Care of a Burn

Depending on the type of burn you have suffered, it may take some weeks for the wound to heal. During this time, it’s important to know how to take care of a burn and reduce the risk of scarring and infection. According to the journal American Family Physician, you should care for a burn following these methods: 9

  • Always wash your hands before handling the burn.
  • Apply an antibacterial ointment (see below why honey can be used as an antibacterial agent) and a thin non-stick gauze.
  • Change the dressing every day and apply ointment.
  • When you change the dressing, check for signs of skin infection.
  • If you notice increased redness, discharge, or the wound is more painful, you should visit your doctor.
  • Avoid the temptation to scratch the wound as it heals.

What to Put on a Burn

Let’s look in more detail at what you can put on a burn and burn blister to help accelerate the wound healing process.

Damp towel

Damp towels can help to keep the burn wound cool when it’s not possible to run cold water over the burn. In fact, doctors from the American Academy of Family Physicians say that you can put clean wet cloth on the burns for the first few days after the injury.9


Honey is an effective natural ointment that you can put on a burnt skin or burn blister to speed up healing.

According to the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, a topical application of honey can help wounds heal faster. Researchers found that honey contains many antibacterial and antiseptic properties that help prevent infections developing in wounds. It was found that when honey was used to dress a burn wound, the wound became sterile quicker than some popular antibacterial creams.10

When applying honey to heal a burn wound, it’s important to use a clean cotton swab to gently apply the remedy. You should also avoid putting a used swab back in the honey when reapplying it.

You can also use honey as a natural remedy for sunburned lips.

Aloe vera gel

You can use aloe vera gel directly on mild to severe burns to help improve the skin’s appearance, boost healing, and help prevent scars developing.

Research into the healing properties of aloe vera has found why aloe vera is a good natural remedy for burns. The Indian Journal of Dermatology reported that aloe vera contains enzymes, vitamins, and minerals nourish the skin. Aloe vera also contains antioxidants and is antibacterial. Aloe vera also improves collagen production in the skin which accelerates burn wound healing.11

According to the journal Phytomedicine, aloe vera can be used as a first aid treatment for first, second, and third-degree burns. Applying aloe vera to a burn helped to reduce inflammation and prevent further skin damage. The researchers concluded that aloe vera is an effective natural remedy for burn treatment.12

Silver sulfadiazine (SSD)

Silver sulfadiazine is an antibacterial pharmaceutical cream that is often recommended by doctors for applying to large burns.

According to, silver sulfadiazine is used to treat or prevent skin infections in serious or severe burns. If you have a skin infection that is difficult to treat, silver sulfadiazine may help clear the infection quicker. However, it has some side effects that can affect kidney function and it shouldn’t be used by pregnant mothers who are near their delivery date.13

For example, the Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery reported that SSD has excellent antibacterial effect in treating skin infections. In their study, it was superior to honey.14 However, as already mentioned, other studies have shown that honey can be superior and more effective than silver sulfadiazine.10

How to Keep a Burn from Blistering

Even with the right treatment for burn healing, it is not always possible to prevent burn blisters. Burned skin blisters form to help the damaged epidermis heal. The thin layer of skin filled with fluid is actually essential to the healing process.

Dr. Roger Henderson on says that partial-thickness burns (second-degree burns) form blisters when the extent of the burn isn’t too deep.15

Should you Grease a Burn?

No. You should never put grease or butter on a burn as this may hinder the healing process.

Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center say that putting grease on a burn is a common first-aid mistake. Anything greasy on a burn will delay healing.16

Instead, you should apply honey or aloe vera to a burn to help boost the wound healing process.

Is it OK to Put Neosporin on a Burn?

Neosporin is another popular topical cream that is used to treat burn infections and prevent them from occurring. According to one study, Neosporin didn’t have a good antibacterial effect when used in burn treatments.14

One study did show that Neosporin powder could accelerate wound healing. The journal International Surgery reported that a combination of povidone-iodine and Neosporin powder could help improve wound healing. However, this should be done by a qualified doctor.17

Burns – When to See a Doctor

With the proper care and using home remedies, you can successfully treat first-degree burns and most second degree-burns. However, in some cases, you should seek prompt medical care if you suffer serious burns or you notice burn blisters or signs of infection.

Doctors from the National Health Service say that burns that require medical attention are the following:4

  • Burns that cover an area of your body larger than your hand.
  • Any kind of burn that leaves white marks or charring on your skin.
  • Any burns that are caused by electricity or chemical spills.

In addition to the following, you should seek medical advice to treat burns that have blistered, show signs of infection like pus oozing from the wound, or a wound that won’t heal with natural or pharmaceutical remedies.

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Medical References

  1. MedicineNet. First aid for burns.
  2. Burns Trauma. 2013; 1(1): 27–31.
  3. Indian J Dermatol. 2015 May-Jun; 60(3): 323.
  4. NHS. Burns and scalds.
  5. WebMD. Home treatment for second-degree burns.
  6. Indian J Plast Surg. 2012 May-Aug; 45(2): 364–373.
  7. UMM. Burns.
  8. MayoClinic. Burns: first aid.
  9. Am Fam Physician.2000 Nov 1;62(9):2029-2030.
  10. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2011 Sep-Dec; 4(3): 183–187.
  11. Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53(4): 163–166.
  12.  1996 Jan;2(3):247-51.
  13. DrugsCom. Silver sulfadiazine topical.
  14. Indian J Plast Surg.2012 May;45(2):374-8.
  15. PatientInfo. Burns and scalds.
  16. URMC. How to avoid common first aid mistakes.
  17. Int Surg.1988 Apr-Jun;73(2):126-9.

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