Relieve your pain with these expert tips.

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There are several different ways to get rid of stubborn, unwanted hair on your body, including your eyebrows, your upper lip, your bikini line, or your legs, and waxing is an excellent option. "Waxing, unlike shaving or depilatory creams, removes hair from the root," explains Michele Green M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. "It takes longer to grow back and is a more permanent solution, though the hair will eventually grow back." Yes, waxing can be an effective, long-lasting option, but it also comes with some risks. You need to heat most waxes before you apply them, and if you get your wax too hot or leave it on too long, you can burn yourself. "Burns can be painful, [and] when left untreated a burn can lead to infection," Green explains. "Burn symptoms vary depending on the severity or degree of the burn. Symptoms are often worse during the first few hours or days after the burn; symptoms include blisters, pain, swelling, white or charred (black) skin, and peeling skin."

There are three types of burns: first, second, and third-degree that can be diagnosed by a medical professional. Green says the first two can usually be treated at home, but if your burn is third degree, seek medical care as it can cause life-threatening issues. Usually, a waxing mishap at home causes a first or second-degree burn. If this happens to you, don't worry. There are simple steps you can take to treat it.

person holding wax stick with dripping wax
Credit: Ekaterina Morozova / EyeEm/Getty Images

How to Treat a Burn at Home

After you get a minor burn, whether it's from waxing or touching a hot baking sheet, run cool (not cold) water over the area for about 20 minutes, Green says. You can also place a clean, cool, wet cloth (not cotton balls because they can stick and cause infection) over the area in 10 to 15-minute intervals to reduce pain and swelling. "Make sure you don’t use ice, as this may make the damage worse," Green warns. You can also apply an antibiotic ointment or cream, such as Bacitracin ($3, Walmart) or Neosporin ($5, Walmart). Green says to use cling wrap ($5, Target) or a sterile, non-fluffy cloth ($8, Amazon) to apply the product.

There are a few natural alternatives to an ointment that you probably already have at home. The first is aloe vera. "Aloe is anti-inflammatory, promotes circulation, and inhibits the growth of bacteria," Green explains. Your best bet, she says, is to take pure aloe vera gel right from the plant's leaf and apply a layer on the burn. "If you choose to buy aloe vera in a store, make sure it contains a high percentage of aloe vera, and avoid any products that have additives, especially coloring and perfumes." An excellent option is Seven Minerals' Organic Aloe Vera Gel ($20, Amazon).

Another option is honey ($9, Amazon). "Honey is an anti-inflammatory and naturally antibacterial and antifungal," Green explains. Although you might have heard that butter and eggs can help heal, Green says to skip these remedies—they're not effective.

After you've treated and dressed your burn, make sure you do not expose that area to sunlight. "The burned skin will be very sensitive to the sun; keep it covered with clothing," Green says. If you are in pain, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Motrin ($13, Walmart), Advil ($9, Target), or Aleve ($9, Walmart), Green says. (Make sure to read the label for proper dosage). If you have any more issues, such as an infection or unrelieved pain, contact your doctor.


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