Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shock and Ouch, or, A Cautionary Tale

Last weekend I slid something from under the broiler and momentarily (very momentarily) encountered the red-glowing heating element with the top of my thumb. With a FFFFSSSST! and visible puff of vaporized skin I gave myself a second degree burn of a little more than a half inch by three-eighths of an inch. I ran it under very cold water for a couple of minutes, and like many burns thus tended, it quieted down within five minutes. At first. It turns out the top of your thumb gets in the way far more than you might imagine, but nonetheless I ignored the whole thing for several days, since keeping a band-aid on is next to impossible if you wash your hands once in a while, or do dishes, or clean stuff around the house, or pull up your socks, or use hand cream, or… To make a long story short, last night it was very irritated and painful. My KLK brought me a big, attractively promising bottle of aloe, long reputed to be “good for burns.”

I took passing note of the giant silly banner on the front of the bottle announcing the “100% GEL *” contents, and of the fact that burns (other than sun-induced ones) were not listed among the ideal uses. Methinks, “that’s not pure aloe” even though it looked appealingly like it, but it certainly never occurred to me that a dollop of the stuff would make my whole hand half way to my elbow go up in flames again. I squeezed on a glob and covered it with a band-aid, pressing it into the wound. Within seconds I was in tears and had to deconstruct the dressing and wash off all the goo— no wait, that would be gel—under lots of cold water.

Once it was dry and cooled down I put a plain band-aid on it and went to sleep. This morning it was a little better, a little dryer, not quite so red and oozy, though still mighty tender to the touch. I’m going to have the kind of scar that doesn’t go away for years, if ever. I’m not much concerned by that—it’ll be joining legions of others accrued over the years—but I swear I will carefully read the list of impurities on the back of the bottle next time (* note the asterisk) before administering soothing balms again anytime soon.

Click on the photo to enlarge it so you can read, for your edification, the list of “stabilizers and preservatives to insure potency and efficacy” this “pure” product: triethanolamine, tocopheryl acetate, carbomer 940, tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM hydantoin, and last, but not least, diazolidinyl urea. I wonder which of these ingredients’ job it is to induce pain?

A little saving grace on this gloriously warm and sunny winter day: I heard and saw a peregrine falcon outside my dining room window. That sure makes up for a lot of sore thumbs.


  1. Ouch. Its a reminder also just how much burns can hurt.

    I have an aloe vera plant growing outside my kitchen door and my first reaction when getting any kind of burn is to go outside, break off a piece and rub the gel on the burn. No additives!

    And it works very well. A little more pain for a second or two then nothing and then a quick healing.

  2. I think your use of aloe is the only way it's good for burns. Buying it in a bottle full of preservatives is disaster! Anyway, my burn is much more healed now :-)