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Burns

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008

Summary

Second and third degree burns require immediate professional medical attention. first-degree burns and sunburns (and some follow up for more severe burns) benefit greatly from both the pain relief and healing of essential oils. Bacterial infection is often a problem with burns. Almost all essential oils offer protection against this. Most recommended is Lavender and White Fir is sometimes used for pain relief.

Classification of Burns

The severity of burns is indicated by the degree of the burn.  The higher the degree number the worse the burn.  A description of the degree of burns is included below:

First-Degree Burns – Only affects the outer layer (epidermis) of the skin with redness and discomfort. Since the epidermal layer is not compromised the skin can still protect the body from infection and help control body temperature so, although there may be pain, there is not risk of consequential problems.

Second-Degree Burns – Extends into the second layer (dermis) of the skin.  As the epidermis is damaged it separated from the dermis and fluid accumulates.  This blistering is the most common characteristic of second-degree burns.  Eventually the separated epidermis will come off and the dermal layer will be exposed.  This increases the possibility of infection and the other functions of the skin are affected leading to secondary problems.

Severe second-degree burns can take weeks to heal, can cause scarring, and may require skin grafts to restore function and appearance.  This is also the most painful of burns since the nerve endings in the dermis may be exposed.

Third-Degree Burns – Extends through the epidermis and dermis and into the subcutaneous tissue of the skin.  Since the outer layers of the skin are completely compromised the normal functions of the skin cannot be accomplished.  Protection from infection must be provided.  If the area is great the temperature regulation of the body will be compromised.  Nerve endings may be destroyed with this type of burn such that there is no feeling in the area.

Forth-Degree Burns – In very extreme cases damage extends below the skin layers into muscle and bone tissue. 

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends: FrankincenseC, HelichrysumC, LavenderEC, MelaleucaC, PeppermintC, White FirC

Essential oils based products: 

Also consider: GeraniumEC, MarjoramC, Protective BlendC

Suggested protocols:

The quicker, the better. Cover the affected area with Frankincense or Lavender oil. Then, if possible, cool the area with Peppermint or a cool compress. If the burn area is too sensitive to apply the oils directly, then use a water spritz with Lavender and Peppermint.

  If blistering occurs or the skin is compromised use Frankincense or Melaleuca to prevent infection.

  White Fir is also recommended to minimize pain and prevent infection.

  As healing begins use Helichrysum to promote tissue regeneration and prevent scarring.

Special Precautions: Severe burns should receive professional medical attention. Do not use “hot” oils on a fresh burn.

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Submissions directly to  EverythingEssential.me.  Our thanks to:      Renee
     
Renee - My one year old burnt the backs of his fingers on the Fire place, to the point of the skin peeling off. One of his fingers was bleeding. We rushed him to the kitchen and ran the cold water for a few seconds which made him scream more. My husband then ran and got our Lavender oil, and we just dropped onto his wounds neat. Within 10 seconds he had stopped crying. It took the pain away for him immediately. We then put some Lavender in a bowl of cold water and he sat with his hand in it for about an hour. To help his body heal, we used a combination of Helichrysum, Lavender and Melaleuca for a few weeks. We could not believe how fast the Lavender took away the pain for him - Panadol would have taken about 20 minutes to kick in! Just one of the many times I was grateful to have (...) oils in my house!

Cristi - My husband was watching our baby this morning (he just turned one year old last week) and didn't realize that he could burn himself on our gas Fireplace.  He just barely touched his little hand to it, but he has a horrible burns on the back of his left hand which has blistered now.  There are six blisters on the backs of his fingers which are pretty big and then one really big one about the size of a quarter on the back of his wrist.  He is in a lot of pain and I don't know what to do for him!!

Julie Ann - Lavender, Peppermint and Fractionated Coconut Oil.  They work something awesome.  Put them on in that order.

Dani - Last Summer my 2 year old went outside without shoes in our sandpit in the hot Arizona sun.  He started screaming, and wouldn't move, so I ran out to get him and took him inside.  By the time I got him inside the whole bottoms of his feet were one huge blister (I couldn't believe his feet could burn that bad).  Anyway, I immediately started applying Lavender to his feet and then Peppermint (to draw the heat out).  After about 5 minutes he stopped crying and 15 minutes later the blisters had no more fluid in them (it was amazing).  He was able to walk around within a couple of hours (which again was amazing considering his entire foot was a blister!!).  Hope this helps and good luck!

Pat - I always keep the Lavender and Peppermint with a spray attachment, so you get good coverage and don't touch the burned area. I would get the Lavender on him asap.

Brooke - I would add Melaleuca to what has been suggested.  I had a young girl burn her entire finger on a pan on the stove.  She had put ice on it several times until her mom insisted that she let me put some essential oils on it.  I put Lavender and Melaleuca on it and then left them some to put on every hour if possible.  The next day - it was gone.  No more blister and no more burn.

Brenda - I have had some experience from 2nd degree to 4th degree burns- however, I did not have essential oils at the time.  But I do know, don’t pop the blisters.  Leave them intact for as long as possible.  The healing will be much more complete and scar less and not be as hard to heal. The liquid in those blisters is very good for healing also.  So don't pop the blisters and then use the oils that have been suggested.  Hope this helps.

Robyn - My 2 year old grandson put his hand on the stove burner. It was a second degree burn.  We used Lavender and White Fir and kept it wrapped.  The oils were used twice a day.  It was amazing to see how well it was healed up within just a few days.

 

Shannon - My nephew just burned his entire belly on my Fireplace. It has ripped a good portion of his skin off. What can I put on it for relief and healing?

Rob - My experience has been with what sounds like less severe burns, not with the skin sluffing off - ouch - did I read that right? However I'm sure Lavender using direct application and also consider Frankincense.  These would both ease pain and aid in healing, while protecting against infection. If its serious 3rd burn I would see a physician. Helicrysum will be helpful for scaring after the healing begins,

Shannon - Thanks! We did the Lavender immediately after and have continued applying it. It just doesn't seem to take the pain out. He's only 2 and quite upset. It's not a 3rd degree burn, but did pull off some skin, just the very top thin layer. We will try Frankincense. Thanks again!

Marge - I would use White Fir. That will take the pain out.

Tamalu - Burns can be no fun at all!  We have had a lot of opportunity to experience them (7 kids and 2 woodstoves), but our most profound burn on a child happened when my 2-year-old cooked his little hand (3rd degree) last year.  I went through a lot of Lavender, White Fir, and Grounding Blend.  I also applied a little Peppermint for its cooling nature (maybe a ratio of 1 drop Peppermint to 2 drops each Lavender and White Fir).  I did use some Helichrysum to speed the tissue healing.  I then covered it with Olive oil and bandaged it to protect it.  I know we are taught to not cover burns, but when the heat is out, it protects from dirt and additional damage-- being bumped or scratched.  I mention this only because of the open nature of your little one's wound, and my boy worked through that third-degree burn in 10 days with no nerve, tendon or ligament damage, as well as no scarring whatsoever.  He has full use of a hand, which might have otherwise been crippled by such an injury.

You probably already know this, but maybe it will help someone else: you can assist him in speeding his healing by holding him on your lap or sitting him down and holding your hands over the burned area.  (I find it easier, more reassuring, if I am holding them) Use your loving intention to help pull the heat and pain energy from the area.  You might have to talk him through this (I always quietly remind my little ones that their bodies are designed to repair themselves and we can work together to get it done).  He may feel an increase in pain for a moment, but if you can talk him through it and persist, it should pass fairly quickly unless there is still a great deal of heat in the wound.  

 

Monkeez5 -  I am looking for any scientific documentation on the safety and effectiveness of Frankincense,  Lavender, or Helichrysum for severe burns.  Does anyone have anything they could share?

Monica - I am not a scientist, but I can tell you that last April, I burned myself on the upper chest very severely with boiling honey.  I applied (...) Frankincense and Lavender repeatedly for days on end.  Some say that I should have gone to the doctor, but I chose not to.  My burn has healed with a barely perceptible scar, and I am still here to tell the tale.  I know that you asked for scientific documentation... Last time I checked, scientists run experiments... I guess I am a scientist after all, because I ran an experiment with my own body.  I didn't die, or have any other ill effects, and I did heal.

The other day, I burned the inside of my wrist with boiling-hot Thai curry... applied (...) Lavender immediately after washing off the hot food.  Within moments, the redness, inflammation, and pain were GONE.

Being slightly less than coordinated, and a very messy cook, I depend upon both Frankincense and Lavender in my kitchen at all times.

Rob - There is an article from Wythenshawe Hospital in the UK (see Science & Research tab above).  In trying to kill or distract some of the awful smells in a burn unit by vaporizing or diffusing essential oils (where I'm sure your dealing with dead and dying epidermal cells everyday) they realized that the oils were greatly reducing the occurrence of super bugs (MRSA) in the hospital.  They did not specify what blend they used, and I realize this is a little bit off topic from your question, but I thought it was an interesting relationship to your inquiry.

Likely the most famous accidental in-vivo study regarding Lavender and burns was from the laboratory of the French chemist names Rene Maurice Gattefosse. As he worked in his lab, he severely burned himself. In order to cool the pain, he plunged his arm into the only cold substance around, a vat of Lavender essential oil. The burns healed rapidly, with little scarring and a new science was born. Gattefosse dedicated the remainder of his life to the study of aromatherapy, or the healing power of scented healing oils. In his studies he proved that essential oils have good penetration, can go deep down to the dermis, absorbed by the vein, through blood circulation can get to the organs and complete healing process.

More recently similar 'accidental in-vivo" testing has been done with a spray of Lavender and Peppermint, which has a cooling effect on serious burns.  (one might be fearful of Peppermint used on an open burn, but it is actually analgesic and cooling)  This blend with pure water in a spray was recently suggested by Dr. David Hill for a plan crash burn victim and the result was the spray was considered quite efficacious.

Our family has had personal experience with Frankincense and Lavender on serious burns.  My wife Wendy spilled boiling hot potato soup on her arm one day, and quickly put Frankincense and Lavender on the burn.   It relieved the pain and healed quickly with no blistering.

Entomology Research Institute, Loyola College, Chennai, India conducted studies at a burn unit, and found Lavandula angustifolia to be effective as a analgesic, to protect against bacteria and showed effectiveness in post burn re-epithelialization. (scaring)

There are nealy 150 references to studies on burns and essential oils on Pub Med, most of them are studies using Lavender.

 

Monkeez5 - We just had an amazing experience with the oils.  My 2 yr old daughter stepped in a pile of hot embers/ashes- needless to say- very severe burns requiring medical attention.  I too, was told not to use my oils until wounds healed (estimated to be three weeks).  For the most part- I did what they told me for the dressing- with these exceptions: Foot soaks- I was told to soak her feet daily before applying the dressings- well of course I could not take a chance of infection from tap water- so I dumped a few (Lavender, Frankincense, Helichrysum) drops each into a stainless steel mixing bowl with warm water. I let her soak and splash as long as possible. Spine-I also rubbed the above three oils plus Lemon (reproduction of white blood cells to speed healing) along her spine a couple times a day. Internal- I also added Lemon to her OJ thru the day (sometimes Protective Blend) and broke the capsules up to dump about 1/3-1/2 each of the LLW to her yogurt daily (to speed healing from inside as well). 

With all of this- she needed very little pain medicine (maybe first day is all).  We went in for our one-week check up expecting two more weeks of this only to hear the burns were healed.  She was not expected to walk for three weeks.  She walked out that day.  Because of the remaining skin and such (still looked yucky) I hadn't even realized they were healed.  I have continued by applying this blend daily (usually twice, with coconut oil to avoid drying out).  It has been 4 weeks today- she looks great- I don't even think she will have scars.  I am going to add the Geranium also which I avoided at the beginning because I was afraid it would burn her a little.

 I would not have trusted any other oils than (...) essential oils in this situation.  This is my baby girl.  I am just thankful for (...) oils.

 

Protocols folks recommend for children

 

 

Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils

Help from Julia's Natural Kitchen

Burns can be treated with some simple things from the kitchen. Immediately apply ice or cold water to the burn along with aloe vera gel and (xxx) Lavender Essential Oil. If you have a plant, just open a leaf and scrape out the gel inside and apply it to the burn. If using a store bought gel, make sure it is pure aloe vera. Mist the burn with a spray bottle of water with a few drops of (xxx) Lavender Essential Oil in it to relive pain and help the healing process. Once the heat of the burn has subsided, apply a thin poultice of burn paste on the burn. Don't peel the poultice off, but continue to thinly layer the burn paste on until you see healing occurring. Then it can be gently soaked off (dont scrape) with water and reapplied. Sometimes a whitish gel substance will appear while the burn is healing, but don't be alarmed, it is part of the healing process as the tissue rebuilds itself, and looks different than pus from an infection. If there is no fever, there is no infection.

Daily expose the burn to fresh air to help speed the healing process, and then re-rap with new gauze bandages to protect the burn from dirt and to help hold the burn paste.

 

Burn Paste

1 part Comfrey Root Powder

1 part honey

1 part Wheat Germ Oil

2 drops  (xxx) Lavender Essential Oil (opt)

Make only as much as you need at one application, as once the comfrey root powder is added it becomes gel like and will over time, become unmanageable. Gently apply to burned area and cover with a gauze bandage. Expose to air daily. Continue to apply burn paste until healed.

Drink plenty of water to help rehydrate and assist the body in healing the burn, and take Protective Blend Essential Oil blend internally to prevent infection.

 

Personal Experience:

My son was on a scouting trip when he burned his hands on a metal Fire pit ring. His father immediately got his hands in cold water and rushed him home. The burns had gone deep and I was concerned about muscle tissue damage and possible scarring. I put  (xxx) Lavender Essential Oil and Aloe Vera gel on it while he was cooling it off with cold water, and made up burn paste, and applied it to the burn as soon as my son could stand not having his hands in cold water. The burns had indeed gone deep into his hands and in some parts where his hands were burned the worst he had 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The process of healing took approximately two weeks to completely heal the burns, and  his hands fully regenerated the tissue with no scarring. The new red tissue that was built slowly turned to a nice healthy pink skin color over a period of two months after his burn incident.

What Science & Research are saying

BBC News 20 March 2007

Essential oils 'combat superbug' 

Tests of new machine at a hospital have found it could be effective in the battle against the superbug MRSA.

Consultants at Wythenshawe Hospital found that using a vaporiser to spray essential oils into the atmosphere killed off micro-organisms.

Airborne bacterial counts dropped by 90% and infections were reduced in a nine-month trial at the burns unit.

The recipe of oils used in the machine was refined by microbiologists at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Scent Technologies, the Wigan-based company which makes the machine, developed the device to mask smells on wards but found it had a beneficial effect on infections.

The study was started after the recipe of oils was modified by the university team, in conjunction with Wythenshawe consultant Ken Dunn.

"Many people will be aware that there are decades of experience with the use of essential oils to control infection," said Mr Dunn.

"I think the novelty of this is putting the two researched technologies together and being able to affect a really surprisingly large area of the ward with a single machine."

There were no MRSA infections in the burns unit while the machine was being used with the recipe of oils.

In the final two months the natural essence blend was removed from the machines and MRSA levels in the air increased - and there was an MRSA outbreak in the ward.

More tests

But despite the apparent success of the trial, MRSA campaigners have urged healthcare professionals to continue with strict cleaning regimes.

Bev Hurst, whose mother Margaret died from an MRSA infection, said: "If this is something that is going to help then that's brilliant.

"But it has to be in conjunction with everything else - it can't just be a machine on a ward."

The National Audit Office estimates hospital-acquired infections contribute to some 5,000 deaths annually.

Further tests are now being carried out.

 

Should nursing take aromatherapy more seriously?

British Journal of Nursing, 16, (2), 116-120. Buckle, J. (2007).

This article discusses the expansion of aromatherapy within the U.S. and follows 10 years of developing protocol and policies that led to pilot studies on radiation burns, chemo-induced nausea, slow-healing wounds, lzheimers and end-of-life agitation. This article outlines pilot studies, carried out in the U.S. by nurses, that subsequently led to the integration of aromatherapy in hospitals.

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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.