SOURCE: Joshua Zeichner, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City
SATURDAY, April 18, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- This barbecue season, make sure the only thing at risk of getting burned is the food.
Protect yourself with an apron and mitts, and pay attention to your surroundings, a doctor advises.
"The primary type of burn you get around the grill is a thermal burn caused by heat or fire from the grill itself. Extreme heat can be toxic to the skin, lead to inflammation, and if serious cause scarring," said Dr. Joshua Zeichner. He's an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.
"Mild burns lead to skin redness, affecting only the most superficial layers of skin. More severe burns can damage the deep skin layers and, in some cases, can lead to permanent, disfiguring scars," he explained in a hospital news release.
Zeichner outlined safety measures to take when using a barbecue.
Keep the flame low and don't pour oil, alcohol, or other flammable items near the grill. "Aerosol spray sunscreens have been reported to light on fire when used near an open grill, so make sure to use them far from the open fire," he advised.
Never barbecue in your bathing suit. Cover your skin to reduce the risk of suffering burns if oil or grease from the food splatters.
If you do suffer a burn while barbecuing, immediately run cold water over the burn, and then apply a cool compress consisting of skim milk and ice cubes in a wash cloth. Proteins in the milk reduce skin inflammation. Raw egg whites contain similar proteins, Zeichner said.
Aloe vera -- either gel or straight from the plant -- helps hydrate and soothe burns. Over-the-counter cortisone ointment reduces inflammation from the outside in, and aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pills reduce inflammation from the inside out.
If you have blistering or open skin, it means that the deeper layers are affected and you should seek medical attention. If you have an open wound, apply over-the-counter bacitracin ointment or another first-aid ointment to it, Zeichner said.
The American College of Emergency Physicians has more about burn prevention.