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by author, natural beauty expert & cancer survivor Britta AragonRSS



Ouch—How to Heal a Curling Iron Burn and Prevent Scarring

By Britta Aragon on April 2, 2013 | 12 Comments

Curling Iron BurnThe curling iron has been around for more than 100 years, but we are still burning ourselves with it.

“Unfortunately, I burned my arm with a curling iron yesterday,” says one forum member. “Today my arm feels fine, although there is a nasty dark spot now.”

“I burned myself on my curling tong again this last week,” says blogger Zoe Foster. “I burn myself because I’m usually in a rush, and not being mindful that the tool in my hand is a scorching, skin-sizzling 220 degrees, and am doing odd angles with my arms and hair….”

I think this is really why most of us get burned—we use the curling iron so often that we become careless with it. Regardless of why we get burned, the important thing is to treat that burn right away. Like any skin wound, it can leave a scar, which is definitely something we don’t want!

1: Cool It Down

Healing a burn from a curling iron is similar to healing any burn—your first step should be to cool it down. Apply cold water immediately! The faster you can cool the burn the more you’ll be able to prevent damage to the skin, which reduces the risk of scarring.

After the initial cooling, if you can, continue to cool the burn for about 20 minutes by applying cold water or cold compresses. Don’t use ice, however, as that can further damage the skin.

Once you’ve tamed the initial burn, try my Rescue + Relief Spray (store in the refrigerator) for cooling, healing relief.

2: Protect the Area

The second thing you need to do is protect the burned skin. You can apply an antibacterial ointment to keep the wound moist and sterile. Some people like to use natural protective salves like tea tree oil and yogurt. These may help, but they can also cause irritation, depending on how bad your burn is. Aloe has been shown in studies to help burns heal, and it’s also a natural antibacterial, so this one is usually a safe bet—just make sure it’s pure aloe, not a 10% solution.

Next, cover the area with a band-aid or sterile gauze to protect it as you go about your day. Avoid applying makeup to the area so that it can heal without risk of infection. Continue to protect the area until the skin has closed and the scab is gone. No matter what, don’t pick or scratch at the wound, as that only increases scarring.

3. Start to Moisturize

Once the wound has healed over and is no longer open or oozing, it’s important to start moisturizing. This will help keep the skin supple to avoid scarring. Try my Body Repair Lotion for burns on the body—it contains calming aloe and calendula. Use my Calming Moisture for burns on the face. It also has aloe as well as oat extract, which helps reduce post-healing itching and redness.

4. Treat the Scar

Once the wound has healed, it typically leaves behind a dark-colored scar. When your skin reaches this stage, you can treat it like you would any scar. First step—exfoliation. Try gentle acids like malic, lactic, and salicylic to break up the scarred tissue, but avoid rough scrubs that may further damage skin. You can use the same products you would use on your face on the scarred area, even if it appears on your arm or your neck.

Next, continue moisturizing. Try my Restorative Skin Balm overnight, as it is made for reducing the appearance of scars, and will help protect the skin as it continues to heal.

You may also want to try a lightening product—look for those that include vitamin C, licorice root extract, uva ursi extract, and white tea extract. These are all natural ingredients that encourage skin lightening and brightening and will help fade the scar over time. While you’re treating the skin with both exfoliation and lightening, don’t forget to protect the area from the sun. Even five minutes of UV-exposure can erase all your progress, so cover the scar with clothes or use zinc oxide sunscreen.

Prevent the Burn!

It may take time, but your curling iron burn will most likely eventually fade. Best bet—don’t get the burn in the first place! Try these tips for preventing curling iron burns:

  • Invest in a curling iron with a plastic tip to protect your fingers.
  • Set the heating level as low as possible for the results you want—this is not only good for your skin, but for your hair as well!
  • Go slow—if you’re in a hurry, pick a hairstyle that doesn’t require curling.
  • Use a comb between the curling iron and your scalp.
  • Be conscious of your forehead and neck when you curl—most burns occur when doing bangs or the short hairs at the back of the neck, so use extra caution when curling these areas.
  • Look for a curling iron with a heat resistant, comfortable handle that makes it easy to keep your grip while styling.
  • Consider using hot rollers instead—they create softer, more natural looking curls, and cause less damage to the hair and skin than curling irons do.

Have you suffered from a curling iron burn? Please share your tips on treatment or prevention.

Picture courtesy Surachai via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Posted in: Hair Care, Skin, Lip and Body Care


12 Comments to “Ouch—How to Heal a Curling Iron Burn and Prevent Scarring”

  1. Ellie Sue says:

    A few weeks after using a triple antibiotic ointment on the burn and it is starting to heal, try using Mederma – a scar healing gel. Can be purchased over the counter.

  2. justine says:

    it never scars. (as long as you have a healthy immune system.) i got a burn and it didn’t scar. my girlfriend got a burn on her left thigh and it didn’t scar. then her friend found out she had hiv and her burn never healed. if you take vitamins, put coco butter, vitamin e, honey, it will fade and go away.

  3. Lousy says:

    I suffer from this burning from the culing iron the last 5 days.
    At the beginning I had a intense red scar on my right cheek, visible enough and I put some penaten creme which wasn’t a good idea since the wound was pouring fluid and felt incovenient.
    Then after 2 hours I put some aloe vera leaf divided in 2 and it was a bit better and of course I used the natural gel from the aloe vera leaf. From the 2nd day the aloe wasn’t good enough since I was feeling a bit pain and I felt that the wound since it wasn’t that deep needed to be moisturised, so I put a Bepantene cream (really thick and oily) and I have it all day on my cheek (visible too :( ) and I change it every 2 hours and the scar now is pink and much better. At least I don’t feel any pain and I think I won’t have any visible scar at the end.
    I don’t know how long it will take to be cured and not visible but I hope not longer than a month!

  4. Britta Aragon says:

    Thanks for writing in with your experience! I hope the tips here help you fade that scar. When it’s completely healed, try exfoliating a bit more often and use things like kojic acid and licorice to encourage more fading.

  5. Grace Mango says:

    I burned myself last night. Its the size of a tennis ball. and Its really dark. I burn myself alot but it always heals. I always put vitamin E on it and it always helps heal but I dont think its gonna help my leg.

  6. Britta Aragon says:

    I’m sorry to hear that, Grace. Take care and keep applying your vitamin E and moisturizer. Bigger burns do tend to create more noticeable scars, but with regular attention you should be able to minimize it.

  7. Candace says:

    I burned myself with a curling rod last week and at first there was a blister . This week the blister/skin peeled off and it is bleeding. I wonder if I need to see a doctor as every time I go to change the dressing it sticks to the wound and once I get it off it begins to bleed again.

  8. Britta Aragon says:

    Hi, Candace. Thanks for sharing your experience, but ouch! Sounds painful. You may want to check with a doctor, as you don’t want an infection. That’s the biggest concern. You want to make sure it stays clean. Take care of yourself!

  9. jenna says:

    i burned my arm with a curler like a half-hour ago and the skin is forming a blister and it’s kind of turning green… not sure why that is i mean i’ve burned myself before(it was on my neck and it was a black spot and a nasty one!) but it healed and it did scar but it is not visible unless you really focus in it, anyway so is it okay with whats happening to my arm? or should i wait till tomorrow morning to see??

  10. Britta Aragon says:

    Hi, Jenna. Sorry about your burn! Did it get better the next day? The main thing you want to be careful of is infection. The curling iron may have had some bacteria on it, which can infect the wound. Be sure to keep it clean and moisturized. Check with your doctor if it gets worse. Good luck!

  11. Caillin says:

    I have just burnt my self on the curler about a 25 minutes ago, I looked on our first aid book, and it is now cooled, and I have placed a bandaid with antiseptic cooling cream on it. However, it still stings. It’s only small, about the size of a mosquito bite and is red and slightly swollen. I haven’t actually told my mum because she’s not home, but I wonder if she should know if I have it under control?

  12. Britta Aragon says:

    Hi, Caillin. Aloe vera is usually one of the best natural alternatives for burns. If you have any of that, I would advise using it as it has a cooling effect on the skin. If you ever get burned again, remember to always apply cold water for several minutes to cool the skin. That will also help alleviate the burning sensation.


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