Chaos in the Kitchen this Thanksgiving? Caring for Cooking Burns

Out of all the days of the year, Thanksgiving boasts the most home kitchen fires. It’s no wonder: in the shuffle of potatoes boiling, turkeys roasting, and gravy simmering, a brief rendez-vous between an open flame and a greased-up entree threatens to send your kitchen up in a blaze.

These can be dangerous enough, but even if you do pull off dinner with your home still standing, Thanksgiving offers no shortage of opportunities to scald yourself with grease or just-off-the-burner soup, let alone the ever-trendy but frequently disastrous deep fried turkey.

So what exactly do you do after the hot oil splashes and you find yourself with a nasty burn?

Assessing and Treating a Kitchen Burn

First off, try not to panic. To mitigate the initial pain, run the burnt area under lukewarm or cool water (not icy cold, as this can actually damage the sensitized tissue) for 10 to 15 minutes. In addition to soothing the pain, the cool water can keep the burn from worsening. Once the situation calms down you’ll need to assess the severity of the damage.


Mild Burns

The most common type of burn that our patients come in with from cooking is from being scalded by hot water. This type of burn generally only affects the surface layer of skin. Even a large or painful burn is oftentimes mild by medical standards; this type of burn will heal relatively quickly (usually 3-6 days) as your skin regrows.

Redness, minor swelling, pain, dry in appearance.

Treatment: Aloe and soothing creams to treat the pain. Materials that are rough on the surface of the burn will only worsen the situation.


But there are other burns that are more serious. If you touched something burning hot like an electric coil on the stove or if you were not able to quickly remove your skin from the burning surface immediately, then you could have a more serious problem. Run the area under cool water to minimize the damage and initial pain. If you treat it correctly, more severe burns will still generally heal in a few weeks as your skin rebuilds.

Symptoms: Extremely red, blistered, sore, splotchy pattern in the affected area.

TAvoid cotton wraps. Soothe and protect the area with antibiotic creams. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen can minimize painful symptoms.


Cooking accidents don’t generally cause, the most severe type possible, but if you see something like this, call 911 immediately and go straight to the emergency room:


Victim might not initially feel pain (due to destroyed nerves), and skin may look charred, white, brown, leathery, or shiny.

Only an emergency room can properly care for a burn of this severity. Seek emergency medical treatment immediately.


Seeking Burn Treatment

You should if you have any question about the severity of a burn, especially on a child, as children’s skin is more sensitive than the skin of an adult.

Over the holidays it might be more difficult to set up an appointment with your primary care physician than normal; for small and mild burns, that’s fine.

Home treatment can keep the situation under control. However, burns that are larger than 1-2 inches, are in an especially sensitive area, or meet the criteria for a more severe burn should receive professional attention as soon as possible.

Typically, blisters formed from burns greater than 1-2 inches are removed to prevent a secondary infection of the fluid contained therein. Blisters less than 1 inch or so can be left in place until they rupture on their own.

Treating your burn properly prevents complications and infection.

Untreated burns are more likely to result in long-term scarring or be vulnerable to bacteria that infect the sensitized, damaged tissue. Victims who are five years behind on a tetanus booster run the additional risk of contracting the tetanus bacterial infection from a burn.

GoHealth Urgent Care centers are poised to provide comprehensive burn care services.


What Can You Expect From a Visit to Our Urgent Care Centers?

When you come to any GoHealth Urgent Care center with a kitchen burn, an urgent care team will thoroughly assess the tissue damage. We’ll recommend treatment to relieve pain and keep the wound clean.

If you haven’t had a recent tetanus shot, we might give you a booster to prevent serious infection. We will also teach you how to properly bandage and clean your burn so that it heals with minimal scarring.

For the majority of minor to moderate burns, consultations with an urgent care professional can take less than half an hour.

With our online check-in and registration, experienced providers, and patient portal you’ll have plenty of holiday left to enjoy afterwards.


Whatever happens in your kitchen this Thanksgiving, we’re hoping your biggest problem is post-feast lethargy. But if accidents do happen, remember that GoHealth Urgent Care centers offer the same treatment as an emergency room for non-life-threatening burns in less time.

Find your closest center using the handy location widget below!