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February 24, 2014

Try This Next Time

The human body is an amazing, self-healing machine. A year or so ago, I found in my inbox one of those *life hack* kind of emails that purports to give you alternatives to well-known cures for little things in life. I don't remember the vast majority of them, but one did stick in my head because I had opportunity to try it the very day I received the email. What is it, you ask?


The next time you burn yourself, don't rush for the ice or cold water to cool it down. Instead, the key is to return the skin to it's normal temp as soon as possible. So put your other hand, fingers, what have you, over the burn and keep it there until you feel the heat diminish in the burned area. It really works. I've used this method for everything from hot water scalds to grease burns to extreme burns like you'd get from this fireplace and have not had even so much as a red mark, much less blisters, from a burn in well over a year now. In fact, last week, I was putting the chunks of wood pictured into the fireplace when I accidentally dragged all of my fingertips across the bottom metal piece. It took several minutes, but I finally managed to return all my fingertips to normal temperature by alternately pressing them gently into the palm of my other hand and onto other body parts - the crease of my elbow, etc. In the end, no blisters, no redness and just a little bit of tenderness on the tips of my fingers where the skin had touched the metal. That went away by the next morning.
Yes, the Human Body is an amazing machine.....errr, animal....whatever.

Posted by DL Sly at February 24, 2014 02:27 PM

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Important reminder: Drop whatever it is that's burning you before following these steps.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 24, 2014 03:44 PM

Well where's the fun in that!?

Posted by: DL Sly at February 24, 2014 03:50 PM

Do you think the effect would be enhanced if you ran the burned area under cold water for 30 - 60 seconds and THEN tried your method?

Posted by: Rex at February 24, 2014 06:18 PM

The more I've used the method, Rex, the more I've started to think that it's the body's reactions to the cold water on the burn that creates the blister - which is a natural barrier both thermal and kinetic - to protect the skin underneath the burned layer. I'm starting to think that by immediately returning it to skin temp by using skin temp, it does two things, 1) it eases the pain very quickly; and 2) the body never thinks the skin was burned and never creates a blister. As I said, there has been, for me, some residual tenderness from touching something hot enough to burn, but that usually goes away by the next day. It's the immediate and most annoying effects of a burn - that of the pain and blister followed by dead skin having to be cut or pulled off and then having to let very tender new skin get conditioned to daily use - that this method is intended to alleviate. So far, for me, it has worked perfectly.

Posted by: DL Sly at February 24, 2014 08:23 PM

I discovered the same phenomenon quite by accident after stupidly grabbing the handle of a skillet that had been in an oven. The first thing I did was wrap a few ice cubes in a paper towel and apply that to the burnt palm of my hand. It still hurt. I was dripping melted ice water on the floor so I got rid of the ice but continued to hold the now skin temperature paper towel. To my surprise, as long as I held the towel, the pain went away. I still had a few blisters, but the pain was gone, as long as I held the paper towel. Who knew?

Posted by: Susanamantha at March 3, 2014 09:13 PM

I'm glad it was only a few blisters in the aftermath.
I made a similar stupid move right before learning this trick. I picked up a glass pan that had been in the oven without the benefit of pot holders. I was intending to put it into the microwave because it wasn't quite done right in the middle, but the outer edges were getting too dark. Problem: the microwave was across the kitchen from the oven. Bigger problem: the burn didn't set in (as in, I didn't really realize my mistake) until I was two steps from every counter.
That was fun.

Posted by: DL Sly at March 3, 2014 10:46 PM