Doctors do not generally recommend using toothpaste on burns. Still, this common home remedy is often reported to take away the painful stinging sensation of minor burns. Since toothpaste is not sterile, however, it is dangerous to put it on any damaged skin. It also may prevent blisters from healing properly.
Toothpaste or other non-sterile substances should never be put on second or third degree burns. These types of burns result in damage to all layers of skin as well as to tissues immediately under the skin. Third degree burns are open wounds that are highly susceptible to infection. Introducing bacteria or other contaminants from toothpaste on a third degree is highly dangerous. Furthermore, severe burns require treatment by a medical professional, which may become more complicated and painful if the patient has already tampered with the wound.
Second degree burns are those that damage several layers of skin and usually result in blistering. Putting toothpaste on burns of this type may dry out the blister. This can cause the outer layers of skin to crack or flake before the under layers have a chance to heal.
The risks of putting toothpaste on burns that are highly superficial are fairly low. If a burn did not break the skin and is not blistering, it is unlikely that germs from the toothpaste will be able to enter the wound. Given that it is still a possibility, however, patients should carefully consider whether they are willing to risk infection for the cooling sensation of toothpaste.
Some other home remedies, such as applying butter to the area, are no safer than putting toothpaste on burns. There are a number of other ways for treating first or second degree burns at home that pose less risk of infection. First, the affected area should be rinsed with cool water for several minutes, then covered with an antibiotic ointment and a bandage. Painkillers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can reduce the pain and swelling. If a burn does not show improvement within a few days, seems to worsen or swells excessively, the patient should be taken to a medical professional immediately, as the wound could be infected.