Lavender: Your Secret Weapon For Burns
By Meagan - July 03, 2013
Guest Post by Sarah of How To Live Naturally Ahh! The 4th of July. There’s nothing quite like popsicles, parades, fireworks, and burns. Wait a minute, burns? Yes, BURNS. Burns and summer seem to go hand in hand. Whether it’s a burn from lighting that firework, a burn from the hot-dog laden grill, or a burn across your back because you didn’t realize just how long you were sitting in the warm sunshine, the fact is that July is filled with burns. So what will you turn to that will help you with your burns? As most of you know, aloe is the first thing that most natural minded people turn to, to relieve burns, but what I want to tell you about is the secret weapon that goes hand in hand with aloe... but it must be applied first! That secret weapon is Lavender essential oil! Why do I suggest Lavender essential oil for burns? Let’s go back in history and see… Back in 1910 there lived a famous French chemist and scholar named René-Maurice Gattefossé. He worked in a laboratory of a cosmetic firm that was owned and named after his family. In July of that same year, Gattefossé was in a terrible lab accident. He fled the laboratory literally aflame. Rolling on a grassy lawn, he extinguished the flames but later wrote, "Both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene." He did not "accidentally" plunge his arm into a strategically placed vat of lavender essential oil. Gattefossé had been studying essential oils in earnest for three years at that point. He knew the healing power of lavender and immediately resorted to this jack-of-all-trades essential oil. In his book, Aromatherapy, he wrote: "Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped 'the gasification of the tissue.' This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day.'" (1) He was later surprised by how quickly his burn healed and how little scarring there was. This intrigued him and he began to study essential oils in earnest. His first test subjects were burned soldiers in military hospitals during the First World War. Fast forward almost a hundred years and we can now tell you what is in the lavender that helps! Lavender contains Linalyl Acetate (24-45%) and Linalol (25-38%) which have local analgesic and anesthetic effects. It also contains Terpinen-4-ol (2-6%) which, like Linalol, is an antibacterial agent. These two contribute to Lavender’s anti-bacterial properties, which in the case of a burn is very important. As you can see Lavender has been used for burns for a long time! Before we talk about how to use lavender for burns, let’s first talk about the different types of burns and how they should be handled.
Degrees of BurnsSeeing as it’s the 4th of July, let’s start with good old fashioned firework burns. Obviously the degree of burn from fireworks can vary, and it is that variance that helps us determine how to handle it. Most fireworks burns settle in the second degree burn stage which will result in blistering, discomfort, and some possible scarring when all is said and done. Let’s review the degrees of burn briefly to make sure we are all on the same page. First degree burns; this would be your typical sunburn, are red and hurt mildly, and usually only affect the first layer of skin. Second degree burns are worse and may have blistering with much more pain. This may affect the first layer of skin as well as the underlying skin. Third degree burns are very bad. The outer layer of tissue is typically gone and depending on how bad the burn is, the tissue may be red, yellow, white, or black and leathery. This is an emergency and you should seek medical help right away! Do not put anything on this type of burn. Leave these to the professionals. First and Second degree burns (and simple chemical burns) can be easily treated at home. Start by cooling the skin by holding the burned area under cool or tepid water. You can also apply a cool or tepid compress with 8 to 10 drops of lavender on it. Never use ice directly on the skin, as it is fragile and you could shock it. For an extra boost, add some aloe juice or gel (try to get as close to 100% aloe as you can). The best kind of aloe is, of course, the kind that you grow at home! When you have your own aloe plant all you need to do is slice off a nice thick leaf, cut it in half and scoop out the contents and add about 10 drops of Lavender to 1/2 cup aloe, or you can apply the lavender directly to the opened aloe plant if that is how you prefer to use it. This makes an amazing healing combination because as the lavender is up against your skin desensitizing your nerves, relieving the pain, healing and preventing scarring, the aloe is cooling while acting as a salve, sealing in the moisture and pushing the lavender into your skin. Young Living has even simplified the process for you by creating Claraderm Cooling Mist, which contains de-ionized water, Aloe Vera leaf concentrate, lavender essential oil, and ionic trace minerals. Toss this little spray bottle into your beach bag, and enjoy the sun!
Burn TestimonyI have very personal testimonial in regards to Lavender and burns. This past winter was the first winter we have had a woodstove. I didn’t have ANY experience with woodstoves, my husband taught me all that I know. Well I made a rookie mistake and ended up with a fireball coming out of the stove and running up my arm, and up my face. Thankfully I have glasses, but it took all the hair off my arm, most of my eye lashes, some of my eyebrows and the edges of my hair. I got first degree burns on my arm and face, but my hand that was holding the lighter stick sustained second degree burns. I wanted to see how well the lavender worked so I took this picture the same day that I received the burn. It is hard to see the burn because it is so fresh, but anywhere it looks red, is where the burn is, the worst being on my index finger knuckle.
When I got the burn I instantly applied lavender. It soaked in immediately so I kept applying more. The pain got pretty intense and I discovered some aloe in the back of my fridge! That helped by cooling it down, but it still ached, so I wrapped my hand in a plastic glove and then applied a frozen gel pack. After one night of that I was able to just apply the lavender and aloe and be ok. One week later this is what the burn looked like. You can clearly see where the fire hit and the scabs that had formed. The worst part of the burn was on my knuckle.
I just took a picture of my hand today, six months after the incident, and I challenge you to find the scar, because I can’t! This is just a testimony of the amazing properties of lavender essential oil!
As with any essential oil, I only recommend therapeutic grade essential oils. If you have questions about how to purchase these oils, please contact me! I hope that now you have learned about this amazing plant’s properties, you will be better prepared should you or anyone you know get burned this summer! Have a WONDERFUL 4th of July!!! Sources:
- Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy. Ed. Robert B. Tisserand. Saffron Walden, England: C.W. Daniel Company, 1995.
- Picture Credit: http://www.oilsandplants.com/gattefosse.htm