Someone welding metal; Someone cooking food with fire; Someone pouring a hot cup of tea

Burns are the fourth most common type of injury worldwide. In the UK alone, it is estimated that each year:
  • 250,000 people receive burn injuries.
  • 175,000 people are admitted to A&E with burn injuries.
  • 16,000 people are admitted to hospital for specialist burns care.
Suffice to say, burns are an extremely common injury and can range in severity from a minor nuisance to a life-altering injury. First aid training recommends that you soothe minor burns by running it under cool water for at least 20 minutes. Why then, does burn gel exist?

Read on to learn what burn gel is and when you should use it.

What is burn gel?

HypaSoothe Burn Product Showcase

Burn gel or hydrogel is a water-based solution that can be applied topically or as part of a gel-impregnated burn dressing. They are typically used for the first aid treatment of minor burn injuries and are often included in burns first aid kits.

What is burn gel used for?

In most cases, the recommended treatment for minor burn injuries is to cool the burn under running water for at least 20 minutes. However, this treatment is sometimes unfeasible.

Burn gels and dressings are used as an alternative to cool burn injuries in cases where cooling with streaming water is impossible, impractical or potentially dangerous, like a mass casualty event, a lack of clean water, for patients at risk of hypothermia or for burns that cover a large area of the body.

What is the active ingredient in burn gel?

Burn gels are mostly water — often up to 96%! The rest of the solution is typically made of natural polymer materials that preserve the structural integrity of the gel. This forms a solution that reduces pain and cools burn wounds but can be applied quickly and on large surfaces without the risk of hypothermia.

How does burn gel work?Someone applying burn gel to their hand

As the burn gel solution contains mostly water, it works by dissipating heat cumulating in the skin through evaporation. This process not only cools the burn injury, it also soothes pain and protects the injured area from contamination or further damage.


How to use burn gel and burn gel dressings

If it’s possible, you should soothe a minor burn injury with running water. In cases where the use of burn gel is recommended, apply it immediately after a burn directly to the injured area and continue to cool the injury using burn gel for 15 to 20 minutes.

Treatment for burns

The first step to treating a burn should always be to ensure that the casualty is removed from danger and the burning process has been stopped. Then, follow these three basic steps:
  • Cool – Cool the burn under running water for at least 20 minutes
  • Cover – Cover the burn loosely with a non-fluffy sterile dressing or cling film
  • Call – Call the emergency medical services if you’re unsure or in the case of a serious burn
Check out our blog for more in-depth information on how to treat a minor burn injury at home.

Read our other blogs for more information on first aid or contact us for further advice and information on our products.

About the author:

Jo Stokes is a writer, marketer and trained first aider at First Aid Online.
Find out more about Jo.