One of the many amazing uses of lavender essential oil is its ability to be used to treatminor burns and scalds. It is believed that lavender oil was first used to treat burns in 1928 by the ‘founder of aromatherapy’, Rene Gattefosse. In his book ‘Aromatherapie’ Gattefosse chronicles suffering a burn to his arm whilst working in his lab. To cool the burn he plunged his arm into a vat of lavender essential oil. He then noted that the burn healed more rapidly than usual and without any scarring or infection. Whether this is true or not is up for debate, for example it is likely that lavender in some form had been used to treat burns for centuries, however it may be that Gattefosse was one of the first to officially chronical it.
So what exactly happens to our skin when we suffer a burn or scald and why is lavender essential oil so effective at treating burns and encouraging rapid and effective healing?
Burns and scalds are damage to the skin caused by heat. Burns are caused by dry heat such as an iron or by fire, whereas scalds are damage to the skin caused by wet heat such as steam or hot water. There are a number of different categories of burns/scalds depending on how deeply into the skin it has been damaged by the burn:
- Superficial epidermal burns – these are burns where only the epidermis (the outer layer) of your skin is damaged. These are the most minor form of burn and will result in your skin being red, slightly swollen and painful but will not be blistered.
- Superficial dermal burns – this type of burn affects both the epidermis and part of the dermis (the underlying layer of your skin which is made up of fibrous tissue and also contains hair follicles and sweat glands etc) layer of your skin. Your skin will be painful, pale in colour and may form blisters.
- Deep dermal or partial thickness burns – these affect both your epidermis and all of your dermis. Your skin will look red, blotchy, swollen and blistered. It could either feel very painful or painless if there is nerve damage.
- Full thickness burns – this is the most serious type of burn that affects the epidermis, dermis and the subcutaneous (the deepest layer of fat and tissue that contains larger blood vessels and nerves) layers of your skin. Here the skin may be burnt away and the tissue underneath may appear pale or blackened.
So how can you use lavender essential oil to treat your burn? Firstly it is only superficial epidermal burns that can be treated at home with lavender oil. For any more serious burns you should seek medical attention. To treat a minor burn, simply apply a drop of undiluted lavender essential oil to the burn up to 3 times per day. As lavender oil has antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and circulatory stimulating and immune boosting properties, it will encourage your skin to heal faster whilst also working against any infection that can lead to scarring and slow down the healing process.
However please note that lavender oil should only ever be used to treat very minor burns. If in doubt always seek immediate medical attention.