9 Effective Essential Oils for Burns

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Many people choose to use essential oils for burns, as these soothing, all-natural substances can quickly relieve the pain and inflammation, while also stimulating healing. However, not all burns are created equal, and some are too severe for self-treatment with essential oils. Burns is defined as damage to the skin, and are typically divided into three categories: first degree, second degree, and third degree. First-degree burns may consist of red and non-blistered skin, such as what happens when you experience a mild sunburn or touch a hot pan on the stove for an instant. The damage is restricted to the top layer of the skin. Second-degree burns typically include blisters, as the damage goes beyond the superficial layer of skin. Bandaging and the application of burn creams are often recommended for these burns, as they are extremely vulnerable to infection. Finally, there are third-degree burns, which penetrate to the deepest layer of skin and are extremely serious; they require medical attention or surgery/skin grafts to properly treat.

Burns can have a range of symptoms, including topical pain, itchiness, swelling, redness, skin peeling and blistering, and can increase your risk of scarring, cancer, secondary infections and other complications that you would rather avoid. Burns do not only differ in severity but also their cause, as chemical burns, electrical burns, radiation burns, and friction burns should all be treated slightly differently. Fortunately, using essential oils for burns is a rapid and effective method for minimizing pain, inflammation and infection risk, due to their analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stimulant and antiseptic properties. [1]

List of Best Essential Oils for Burns

When it comes to applying essential oils for burns, few oils are more effective than tea tree, rosewood, clary sage, lavender, calendula, manuka, neroli, frankincense, roman chamomile and peppermint.

Three essential oil bottles surrounded with colorful flowers

Essential oil blends for aromatherapy Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Clary Sage Oil

The impressive anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of this oil can quickly suck the heat and pain out of a burn, while also numbing the area around the injury and reducing the urge to itch, which can spread infection and slow healing. [2]

How to Use – While you can consume small amounts of this oil to speed the healing processes from within the body, most people blend a few drops of clary sage oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and apply it directly to the burned area of skin.

Rosewood Oil

The essential oil of rosewood is known as a powerful antibacterial substance with very few side effects, making it ideal for protecting burns from infection. Beyond that, it can also help to improve the elasticity and collagen production in the skin, which can speed the recovery process of burns and reduce the appearance of scars. [3]

How to Use – The best way to improve the antibacterial protection of the skin is through topical application, so blending rosewood oil with another antiseptic carrier oil, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, is a great idea.

Manuka Oil

The antiseptic and stimulating properties of this essential oil can help it prevent scarring as a result of first and second-degree burns, while also speeding the healing process and reducing inflammation and pain. [4]

How to Use – Unlike many other oils, manuka oil can be used in an undiluted form and placed directly on the wound for best results. However, for people with sensitive skin, mixing it with olive oil is also effective.

Neroli Oil

When it comes to antioxidants, neroli oil is packed, giving it the ability to heal the skin and eliminate the appearance of scars. By helping to stimulate the growth of new cells and reduce oxidative stress, it can help to remove any memory of a burn [5]

How to Use – Using a cotton ball, gently dab a few drops of this highly potent oil directly onto the site of your burn. You can repeat this process 2-3 times per day until the scar disappears, which could take up to 3 months.

Peppermint Oil

Not only does peppermint have a refreshing and cooling sensation when applied, but it is also anti-inflammatory and analgesic in nature. Beyond this, it can even stimulate blood flow to the affected area, which will speed the recovery time. [6]

How to Use – Topical and internal use of peppermint oil are both effective for burns, as the former can eradicate pain and swelling, while the latter can stimulate circulation and kick-start your body’s natural healing abilities.

Tea Tree Oil

With antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, tea tree oil is one of the best possible remedies for burns. It works very quickly, particularly as a pain reliever, making it one of the first essential oils for burns that people seek out. [7]

How to Use – Most importantly, you must use this oil with caution, as it is highly potent and can be toxic if ingested. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with olive oil or coconut oil and gently rub it on the burned area for protection against infections and more rapid healing.

Calendula Oil

This versatile oil is able to reduce swelling and inflammation, soothe pain and moisturize the skin, all of which is essential following a burn. Furthermore, calendula oil can stimulate tissue production, which is critical following a second-degree burn.

How to Use – You can add a few drops of calendula oil to a warm bath and then soak for 20-30 minutes in the tub. This is particularly good for larger first-degree burns, such as sunburns, but the oil can also be topically applied in limited quantities directly to the burn.

Frankincense Oil

There are notable antiseptic and antioxidant compounds found in frankincense oil that can help it keep burn clean and infection-free, while also stimulating the body’s natural recovery systems to minimize oxidative stress and promote faster healing.

How to Use – Blend frankincense oil with jojoba or coconut oil, and then topically apply it directly to the site of the burn, and the skin around it. You can also add a few drops of frankincense oil to your bathwater and take a long soak to soothe the pain of a first or second-degree burn. [8]

Roman Chamomile Oil

As with many of the oils on this list, roman chamomile oil boasts antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic compounds. This can help minimize the pain of burns, while also protecting the wound from potential infection, which is a major risk, particularly for second-degree burns. [9]

How to Use – Always blend chamomile oil with a carrier oil, as the potent nature of this oil is known to irritate the skin. A few drops of this should be enough, although you can also mix a few drops of Roman chamomile oil into the herbal tea to stimulate healing and overall health from the inside out.

A Word of Warning

Thanks to the versatile effects of essential oils, they are excellent remedies for burns, but there are a few factors to take into consideration. You should always get severe burns checked out by a doctor, to ensure that there isn’t nerve damage or permanent scarring. While many of the above essential oils are antiseptic in nature, infection is still a major worry for any type of burn. Finally, essential oils are highly potent substances, and some of these can cause allergic reactions and additional skin inflammation, particularly for people with sensitive skin. Treating mild burns with small amounts of essential oil is perfectly acceptable, but for more serious wounds, speak with your doctor before using any essential oils for burns.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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