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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2021-08-23 (EDT)


Causes Time Spent Outside, Trauma, Environmental Chemicals
See Also Dermatology / Skin Conditions, Injuries
Books Books on Skin Diseases
Articles Articles on Dermatology / Skin Conditions

More than two million Americans suffer from burns every year, with children and the elderly being the most affected. Almost all (80%) of minor burns occur in the home, sunburns are the most common minor burn that occurs outside the home.[1] Naturopathic treatment typically deals with superficial or minor burns - second degree or severe burns are treated as a medical emergency.

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

Burns typically occur due to contact with high heat, hot water or electricity. They can also occur as a result of exposure to chemicals.


  • UV radiation is the primary cause of sunburn.


  • Accidents
  • Contact with hot or boiling water is the primary cause of burns within the home.
  • Household Chemical
  • Contact with household chemicals or cleansers can cause burns.

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Many prescription medications increase one's sensitivity to the sun, increasing the risk of sunburn.


  • Sunburn symptoms can include:
  • changes in skin color may take a few hours to appear
  • red, tender skin that is warm to the touch
  • blisters that develop hours to days later
  • peeling skin on the sunburned areas
  • signs of sun poisoning include: fever, chills, nausea or rash
  • Three Stages of Wound Healing
  • Each stage has specific and complicated mechanisms which together heal wounds, including burns, and is an amazing manifestation of the ability of the body to heal itself.[2]
  1. Inflammation
  2. Proliferation
  3. Tissue remodeling
  • Classification of Burns
The severity of the burn depends on the duration of contact with the heat source. Burns can be classified as superficial, superficial partial thickness, deep partial thickness, and full thickness. These terms replace the old classification system of first, second and third degree burns. Minor superficial burns are the only ones that may be safely treated at home. All other burns should be immediately treated by a trained health-care professional. [3]
  • Superficial burns are small, superficial, and shallow, usually caused by a brief contact with a heat source. They do not extend down past the top layer of skin. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness and rarely with blistering.
  • Superficial partial thickness burns result from more prolonged exposure to a heat source that still only affects the skin surface. Symptoms include pain, temperature sensitivity, weeping blisters, and redness that whitens (blanches) with pressure.
  • Deep partial thickness burns extend down below the skin’s surface, affecting the dermis of the skin. These burns may be a result of scalding, flash ignition, and flames. Symptoms include intense pain and at times loss of sensation, large blisters, and a patch red and white appearance indicating a loss of blood vessels.
  • Full thickness burns completely burn away all the layers of skin, resulting in a dry, leathery surface that lacks sensation. These types of burns penetrate deeply, sometimes affecting muscle and bone in addition to skin.

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies.

Burns are an acute condition. The treatment for minor burns tends to focus on relieving the pain, protecting the burn, and minimizing the chance of infection and scarring. Other important factors to consider in treatment include; management of underlying issues like hyperglycemia, removing dead tissue when necessary (debridement) and limiting pressure at the wound site. [2] For severe burns always seek medical care.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

  • Hydrotherapy is a wonderful first step for superficial burns. Cool running water and cool compresses applied to the burn will decrease the pain and minimize the damage to the surrounding tissues.
  • Aloe gel[4] from a plant or prepared gel/juice is an easy and effective home treatment that has two actions: acts as an antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection and acts to ease the pain and burning.
  • If blisters are present, clean bandages may be helpful in preventing infection.
  • Ensure that you rehydrate by drinking adequate amounts of water.
  • Use on chemical-free personal care products to prevent the risk of further skin damage or blistering.
  • Avoid products that contain benzocaine, lidocaine, or petroleum (like Vaseline)
  • Use chemical-free moisturizers to replenish the moisture of the skin
  • Choose loose fitting clothing
  • Choose natural fabrics that allow the skin to breathe.
  • Cautions
  • Call a health care provider immediately if you have a fever with sunburn or if there are any signs of shock, heat exhaustion, dehydration or other serious reaction. Symptoms that require immediate attention include:[5]
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • rapid pulse or rapid breathing
  • extreme thirst, no urine output, or sunken eyes
  • pale, clammy or cool skin
  • nausea, fever, chills or rash
  • eye pain or increased sensitivity to light
  • severe, painful blisters


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Poor nutritional status is associated with worse clinical course of burns and other acute skin lesions.[6].
  • Ensure you drink adequate water. Often electrolytes also need to be replenished.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies that support burns include:


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. Pizzorno Joseph, Murray Michael, Joiner-Bey Herb The Clinician's Handbook of Natural Medicine, Churchill Livingstone
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Al-Waili Noori, Salom Khelod, Al-Ghamdi Ahmad. (Apr 2011) Honey for wound healing, ulcers and burns; Data supporting its use in clinical practice. The Scientific World Journal; 11:766-787.
  3. Boon Heather, Smith Michael. 2009 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs, Second Edition, Institute of Naturopathic Education and Research, Toronto.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Murray Michael 1996 Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally Prima Publishing
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0003711/
  6. Waitzberg DL, Ravacci GR, Raslan M. (2011) Hospital hyponutrition [Desnutrición hospitalaria]. Nutr Hosp;26(2):254-64. PMID:21666960
  7. Lu Henry (1986) Chinese System of Food Cures, prevention and remedies Sterling Publishing Co. New York.
  8. Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul Richard, Barlow Kerry, Gilbert Cyndi, Gowan Matthew, Smith Fraser 2010 Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs, CCNM Press, Toronto
  9. Boon Heather, Smith Michael 2004 The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs, Robert Rose, Toronto
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ullman Dana, Solomon Richard. Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants. 1992 Penguin Putman Inc.
  11. Hershoff Asa 2000 Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
  12. Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth 1997, Homeopathic Self-Care, the quick and easy guide for the whole family. Prima Publishing