Burns are one of the most common household injuries. They can vary in severity from minor first-degree burns that affect the outer layer of skin to more serious second- and third-degree burns that damage deeper layers of skin tissue. While some home remedies like aloe vera gel help soothe minor burns, more severe burns often require medical treatment. One folk remedy for burns suggests applying tomato to the affected area. But is this an effective and safe home treatment for burns? Let’s take a closer look.
What causes burns
Burns occur when skin tissue is damaged by exposure to heat, chemicals, electricity, or radiation. Some common causes of burns include:
- Touching hot surfaces like stoves, irons, or curling irons
- Spilling or touching hot liquids like coffee, tea, or boiling water
- Getting too close to open flames from items like candles, fires, or grills
- Exposing skin to harsh chemicals found in cleaners, acids, pesticides, etc.
- Coming into contact with live electrical currents and outlets
- Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays (sunburn)
The severity of a burn depends on how deeply and extensively the skin tissue is damaged. First-degree or superficial burns only affect the outer layer of skin and cause mild redness and pain. Second-degree burns go deeper into the skin layers and cause blistering. Third-degree burns destroy the full thickness of skin and can damage fat, muscle, and bone tissue underneath. Fourth-degree burns extend past the skin into tendons, ligaments, and bones.
Treating burns at home
For mild first-degree burns, home treatment may be sufficient for healing. Follow these tips for treating minor burns:
- Run cool water over the burn for 10-15 minutes to soothe pain and heat.
- Cover the burn loosely with a sterile bandage or clean cloth.
- Apply aloe vera gel or lotion to soothe and moisturize the skin.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen if needed.
- Avoid breaking any blisters that may form.
However, see a doctor for any burns that:
- Cause extreme pain, redness, swelling, or blistering
- Affect sensitive areas like the face, hands, feet, joints, or genitals
- Cover a large surface area of the body
- Appear infected with increased redness, pus, fever, etc.
- Do not heal within 2-3 weeks
Second-degree and more severe third- and fourth-degree burns always require emergency medical care. Seek immediate help if a burn causes:
- Visible charring, scarring, or leathery whiteness of skin
- Blisters or deep tissue injury
- Difficulty breathing or facial swelling
- Severe pain that medication does not relieve
- Skin that feels hard or stiff to the touch
- Singed facial hair, eyelashes, or eyebrows
Putting tomato on a burn
Putting tomato on a burn is an old home remedy that has been passed down for generations. Some of the proposed benefits of tomato for burns include:
- Soothes pain – Tomatoes contain antioxidant lycopene that may help relieve pain and inflammation.
- Prevents infection – The acidic tomato juice creates an antibacterial environment to ward off infection.
- Reduces blistering – Tomatoes provide vitamin C and carotenoids that can help reduce skin blistering.
- Improves healing – Nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin C in tomatoes support cell regrowth and healing.
However, there is limited scientific research to support the efficacy and safety of using tomato on burns. Applying tomato may provide temporary pain relief and protection given its acidic pH, antioxidant content, and cooling temperature straight from the fridge. But tomato does not replace standard medical treatment for more severe burns.
How to apply tomato on a burn
If you want to try using tomato for a minor burn, follow these steps:
- Wash and cool the affected area under cold running water for 10-15 minutes after getting burned.
- Gently pat dry the burn and surrounding skin.
- Cut a fresh, ripe tomato in half and rub the inside pulp directly over the burn for a few minutes.
- Let the tomato juice sit on the burn for 5-10 minutes until it dries.
- Rinse off the tomato juice with cool water and pat dry.
- Apply aloe vera gel and cover with a sterile gauze or bandage.
- Repeat 3-4 times a day as needed for pain relief.
Make sure to use fresh tomato each time instead of reapplying the same tomato pulp, which could introduce bacteria. Only use tomato on minor first-degree burns and avoid placing raw tomato in open blisters or wounds, which can cause infection.
Risks and warnings
While tomato may help soothe minor burns, take these precautions before using:
- Allergies – Only apply tomato if not allergic or sensitive to tomatoes.
- locations – Avoid using tomato on the face or other sensitive body areas.
- Severe burns – Do not use tomato on second-, third-, or fourth-degree burns.
- Open wounds – Keep tomato out of any open blisters or broken skin tissue.
- Duration – Discontinue use if irritation, increased redness, or discomfort occurs.
- Medical care – See a doctor for severe burns or if signs of infection develop.
While tomato may temporarily soothe minor burns, it does not provide definitive treatment or burn care. Get medical help for any significant or worsening burns.
Other home remedies for burns
Some other home remedies that may help soothe pain and promote healing for mild superficial burns include:
|Remedy||How It Helps|
|Aloe vera gel||Soothes inflammation and promotes healing|
|Honey||Antimicrobial and helps prevent infection|
|Tea bags||Tannic acid helps relieve pain and inflammation|
|Vinegar||Disinfects and prevents infection|
|Potato slices||Draws out heat and soothes inflammation|
However, there is limited evidence that these DIY options provide significant medical benefits for burns. More research is still needed to establish their efficacy and safety compared to standard medical treatments.
When to see a doctor
While tomato and some other home remedies may temporarily soothe minor first-degree burns, they are not substitutes for medical treatment. See a doctor or seek emergency care for:
- Second- or third-degree burns
- Burns that are larger than 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter
- Facial, hand, foot, joint, or groin burns
- Burns causing charred, leathery, or white skin
- Any burn in infants or young children
- Electrical and chemical burns
- Burns with persistent pain that over-the-counter medication does not relieve
- Signs of infection like increasing redness, swelling, pus, fever, etc.
Severe burns require special medical treatments like wound cleaning, skin grafting, fluid resuscitation, and intravenous antibiotics. Treating them at home can lead to poor healing, scarring, infections, and other medical complications.
Applying tomato to minor first-degree burns may temporarily relieve pain and prevent infection. However, tomatoes should not replace aloe vera gel or medical treatments for more severe burns. See a doctor for any significant burns or ones that do not improve within 2-3 weeks with home care. While tomato may have some potential benefits, more research is still needed to understand its efficacy and safety for treating burns.