Burns can be caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, and sun exposure. They vary in severity from causing minor pain to being life-threatening. First-degree burns are the mildest type, only damaging the top layer of skin, causing it to become red, painful, and tender. Although the skin may swell, no blisters form.
Second-degree burns cause damage to deeper layers of the skin. A second-degree burn looks much like a first-degree burn except that blisters form at the skin’s surface. The blisters may be red or whitish and are filled with a clear fluid. Third-degree burns are the worst type of burn, extending through all layers of the skin and causing nerve damage. Because of this nerve damage, third-degree burns generally aren't painful and have no feeling when touched—an ominous sign. The skin may be white, blackened, or bright red. Blisters may also be present.
Only first-degree burns should be self-treated. More severe burns require a doctor's supervision to prevent infection and scarring. Third-degree burns and extensive second-degree burns can cause permanent injury or death.
One small, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the classical remedy Cantharis.1 This trial enrolled 34 people who had sustained a minor burn within 6 hours of admission to the study. The researchers gave the members of the treatment group acetaminophen (non-aspirin painkiller) and one chewable tablet of Cantharis 200c or placebo tablet. On an hourly basis for the next 5 hours, participants recorded their levels of pain.
The results were not promising. No significant difference was found between the pain levels of the treatment group and the pain levels of the control group.
Traditional Homeopathic Treatments for Minor Burns
In classical homeopathy, there are many possible homeopathic treatments for minor burns, to be chosen based on various specific details of the person seeking treatment.
According to classical homeopathy, lesions that would be described as raw, irritable, and inflamed can be treated with Calendula. This remedy can be taken orally or as part of a homeopathically prepared topical lotion or ointment.
If you are feeling very intense and restless from extreme burning pain, you might fit the symptom picture for Cantharis.
Other Natural Options
For herbs, supplements, and other alternative treatments that may be useful for this condition, see the Minor Burn article.
For a thorough explanation of homeopathy, including dilution of therapies, see the Homeopathy Overview.
1. Leaman AM, Gorman D. Cantharis in the early treatment of minor burns. Arch Emerg Med. 1989;6:259–261.
Last reviewed September 2014 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Last Updated: 9/18/2014