Hot tools make life easier. Whether they’re enabling you to create beautifully styled locks, or simply taming your wayward strands each morning, curlers and straighteners are one of the beauty industry’s greatest inventions. That is, until you lose concentration for a split second and that 180-degrees (or hotter) tool burns you. While styling tool burns typically aren’t too serious, they do still need some attention. So we asked Dr Samantha Eisman, dermatologist at Sinclair Dermatology, for the best ways to treat this type of burn.
Cool the burn down
This may not come as a surprise to you, but the first (and most important) thing to do after burning yourself with a hot tool is to cool the area down. Eisman recommends placing the burn under cool running water if possible, or applying a cool compress to the area for 20 minutes. Eisman explains that removing the heat from the burn is essential because cooling can prevent the wound from progressing and affecting deeper layers of the skin.
Assess the damage
Before you can appropriately treat your burn, you need to determine the extent of the damage. Burns from hot tools are most commonly superficial, which implies that only the outer layers of skin are affected, says Eisman. “They present with pain and redness but don’t blister and will heal within 10 to 12 days,” she explains. Alternatively, partial burns can occur, which means the first and second layers of skin are affected. “These burns are also painful and red, but they tend to blister,” says Eisman. The rarest type of burn from a hot tool, which is becoming more and more frequent especially in toddlers and children who accidentally touch the heated iron, are full thickness burns – they involve all the layers of the skin. “These burns are painless, charred, dry and leathery, and are a medical emergency that require urgent medical attention.”
Apply a mild cortisone ointment
If you’ve decided that no urgent medical attention is required and your burn is only superficial, Eisman recommends applying a mild cortisone ointment to the wound immediately after cooling, then gently cleansing the area. If you don’t have a cortisone cream on hand, a first aid burn gel will suffice.
Keep the wound moist
According to Eisman, the best way to ensure your burn doesn’t scar is to keep the wound moist. To do so, continue to apply an ointment (Eisman says Vaseline works wonders) as often as possible in the subsequent days. She adds that antibiotic ointments can also be applied (under the direction of your doctor) to care for the wound and prevent infection.
Load up on SPF
“Once the overlying skin is no longer a scab and the skin is intact, apply daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and keep the burn out of the sun,” says Eisman. Doing so will protect the sensitive area and reduce the chances of scarring.
Hold off on applying makeup
While you’re likely to want to hide your burn with concealer, Eisman warns against this. Covering a burn (particularly a burn in its early stages) with makeup “can irritate the wound and delay healing. If you need to cover the wound then apply a wound-healing dressing such as DuoDERM® Extra Thing Dressing and apply makeup over this,” she adds.
Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.