Photo from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
The butter-for-a-burn remedy has become widely accepted, because it is believed that the greasy substance can be cool and soothing. However, there are no clinical studies that support the use of butter to limit the burn or to aid healing or comfort. While butter may afford some temporary relief from the sting of a recent burn, it has no known antiseptic, antibiotic, or long-term pain-relieving properties.
Since burns are the result of tissue injury caused by excessive exposure to heat, it is helpful to immediately cool the skin in order to stop the damage from the burning process. Butter and other oily products may actually worsen the effects of the burn, because the grease slows the release of heat from the skin. Butter may also contain bacteria that could lead to an infection, and the thick, greasy substance makes it more difficult to properly clean the area.
The best way to treat a burn is with cool water, which gently removes heat from the area and may alleviate pain. Contrary to popular opinion, ice and ice water should be avoided, because extreme cold and extreme heat can both damage skin.