Why Does Running A Burn Under Cold Water Help

Running a burn under cold water is a common first-aid practice that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives. I remember a particular incident a few years ago when I accidentally touched a hot pan and immediately rushed to the sink to run cold water over my burn. It was a reflex action, but I couldn’t help but wonder why this method was so effective in soothing the pain and preventing further damage. In this article, I will delve deeper into the reasons why running a burn under cold water is a recommended course of action.

Immediate Cooling Effect

One of the primary reasons why running a burn under cold water is beneficial is due to its immediate cooling effect on the affected area. When you expose a burn to cold water, it helps to dissipate the heat from the burn site, reducing the temperature and soothing the pain. The cold water helps to constrict the blood vessels, slowing down the blood flow, which can help to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Furthermore, the cold temperature numbs the nerve endings in the skin, providing immediate relief from the intense pain associated with burns. This numbing effect can also help to prevent the burn from developing into a more severe injury.

Preventing Further Damage

Another significant benefit of running a burn under cold water is its ability to prevent further damage to the surrounding tissues. Burns can continue to damage the skin and underlying tissues even after the initial contact with the heat source has been removed. By applying cold water immediately, you can minimize the depth and extent of the burn by reducing the transfer of heat to deeper layers of the skin.

Cold water not only helps to cool the burn site but also aids in preventing the burn from spreading to unaffected areas. It constricts the blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the burn, limiting the risk of the burn extending beyond its initial boundaries.

Reducing the Risk of Blisters

Running a burn under cold water can also help to reduce the likelihood of blisters forming. Blisters occur when the burn damages the deeper layers of the skin, leading to the accumulation of fluid underneath the damaged area. The cooling effect of cold water can help to minimize the severity of the burn and prevent the formation of blisters.

It’s important to note that running a burn under cold water should be done for a significant amount of time, typically for at least 10 to 15 minutes. This duration allows for adequate cooling of the burn and provides the best chance for preventing further damage.


In conclusion, running a burn under cold water is an effective first-aid practice due to its immediate cooling effect, prevention of further damage, and reduction in the risk of blisters. By taking prompt action and running the burn under cold water for an adequate duration, you can alleviate pain, minimize the severity of the burn, and promote faster healing. Remember, if you experience a severe burn or have any concerns, it is always best to seek medical attention.