5 Proven Benefits of Coconut Oil for Burns

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Coconut oil is one of the best natural treatments for burns, and is often the first choice for people in coconut-cultivating nations for the treatment of these painful skin conditions.  Coconut oil has crucial properties that make it effective for not only treating burns, but also preventing secondary infections, moisturizing the skin, speeding up the healing process, and minimizing permanent scarring or marks from burns.

Burns are typically classified as first-, second- or third-degree burns, moving from least to most severe. First-degree burns usually only affect the outer layer of skin, such as a sunburn, whereas second-degree burns may extend a few layers deeper, resulting in more pain and possibly affecting blood vessels and nerves. Third-degree burns require specialized care, and may include hospitalization. [1]

Coconut oil is recommended as a treatment for first-degree burns and some second-degree burns, which include sunburns, water burns, rope burns, minor chemical burns, acid burns, and radiation burns.

As mentioned, third-degree burns are often life-threatening and should be treated in official burn units by specialists. Coconut oils can be used after this formal medical treatment for third-degree burns to help minimize scarring, but it should not be used as a first-response treatment to such severe injuries, which often result from being in a fire or experiencing severe chemical burns. [2]

A bottle of coconut oil with a small bowl of coconut cream and a halved coconut with white flower on a wooden table

Coconut oil helps in skin care. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Oil, coconut
Serving Size :
Water [g]0.03
Energy 892
Energy [kJ]3730
Total lipid (fat) [g]99.06
Ash [g]0.03
Calcium, Ca [mg]1
Iron, Fe [mg]0.05
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.02
Choline, total [mg]0.3
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.11
Tocopherol, beta [mg]0.6
Tocopherol, delta [mg]0.18
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]2.17
Tocotrienol, beta [mg]0.13
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.36
Tocotrienol, delta [mg]0.25
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]82.48
4:0 [g]0.01
6:0 [g]0.48
8:0 [g]6.8
10:0 [g]5.39
12:0 [g]41.84
14:0 [g]16.65
15:0 [g]0.02
16:0 [g]8.64
17:0 [g]0.01
18:0 [g]2.52
20:0 [g]0.08
22:0 [g]0.02
24:0 [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]6.33
16:1 [g]0.02
16:1 c [g]0.02
18:1 [g]6.27
18:1 c [g]6.25
20:1 [g]0.04
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.7
18:2 [g]1.68
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]1.68
18:3 [g]0.02
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic [g]0.02
18:1 t [g]0.02
18:2 t not further defined [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total trans-polyenoic [g]0.01
Phytosterols [mg]86
Sources include : USDA [3]

Benefits of Coconut Oil for Burns

Coconut oil can deliver a number of important benefits for people suffering from burns of varying types and severity. This includes protecting against infections, increasing the rate of healing, soothing pain and inflammation, keeping the area moisturized and cool and reducing scarring. [4]

Relieves Pain

Research has shown that coconut oil has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to soothe the discomfort and pain caused by burns of all types. This is mainly the result of the vitamin E found in coconut oil (source: USDA), also known as tocopherol. [5] [6]

Protects Immune System

The rich content of medium-chain fatty acids found in this oil, namely lauric, capric and caprylic acids, have antibacterial and antiseptic qualities that can protect the exposed burns from the many pathogens, irritants and pollutants from the external environment. One of the biggest risk factors that complicates burns is the risk of infection; applying coconut oil can markedly reduce your susceptibility to these dangerous secondary infections. [7]

Speeds up Healing

Coconut oil is also able to penetrate deeply and increase the rate of growth and healing of damaged skin cells. The vitamins and polyphenols in this oil can reduce oxidative stress in these already damaged cells and significantly speed the healing process, making for a quicker recovery. Coconut oil stimulates the flow of blood to the burned areas, which bring oxygen and nutrients where they are needed most. [8]

Moisturizes Skin

Coconut oil is known to penetrate the skin deeply, making it particularly effective for second-degree burns and rope burns, which often peel off multiple layers of skin. By delivering moisture to these exposed areas, it can prevent dryness and the accompanying pain, while providing soothing comfort, especially when applied rapidly following the event of a burn. [9]

Reduces Scar

This oil is high in antioxidant vitamins and polyphenolic compounds, which can promote collagen cross-linking and strengthen the dermal tissue to promote regrowth and healing. It can minimize the appearance of scarring, which so often results from burns. While it won’t be able to prevent all scarring from a burn, coconut oil can reduce it and leave the new skin with full elasticity, rather than giving it a wrinkled or leathery appearance. [10]

How to Use Coconut Oil For Curing Burns?

You can use virgin organic coconut oil for burns by gently applying the oil – generously and frequently – to the affected areas. It is also recommended that you use other essential oils in conjunction with the base oil to further promote healing and reduce inflammation. Lavender oil or (very small) amounts of tea tree oil are excellent, as these are disinfectant in nature.

Before treating your burn with coconut oil, it is wise to run the burn under cold water for a few minutes, which will soothe the pain and clear out any other irritants and substances that may have entered the burn. This will partially numb the area for a short amount of time. This also helps to prevent scarring on the area, as it quickly stimulates blood flow to the area. [11]

Immediately following this, generously apply the oil mixture to the site of the burn; there is no need to rub or massage the oil into the area. Simply allow it to permeate the skin.

Leave the oil mixture on the skin for 10-15 minutes before gently washing it off with water. If possible, allow the entire mixture to soak into the skin, and try not to move or twist the burned area.

Repeat this process multiple times per day. When you feel the inflammation or pain return, or if the coconut oil is completely soaked in and the skin no longer has an oily appearance, re-apply the oily mixture. [12]

You can continue to use this treatment method until the burn is healed or the scarred area is visibly reduced in appearance.

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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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