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I'm not sure how long this particular email has floated around the internet before it landed in my inbox, but it seems to claim that you can treat a mild (First or Second degree) burn by covering it in ordinary flour.

It claims that the flour will not only ease the physical manifestations (blisters, etc.) but also reduce the level of pain associated with being burned.

FW: Burn Remedy

My experience with burns is this:

Once I was cooking some corn and stuck my fork in the boiling water to see if the corn was ready. I missed and my hand went into the boiling water....

A friend of mine, who was a Vietnam vet, came into the house, just as I was screaming, and asked me if I had some plain old flour...I pulled out a bag and he stuck my hand in it. He said to keep my hand in the flour for 10 minutes which I did. He said that in Vietnam, this guy was on fire and in their panic, they threw a bag of flour all over him to put the fire out...well, it not only put the flour out, but he never even had a blister!!!!

SOOOO, long story short, I put my hand in the bag of flour for 10 minutes, pulled it out and had not even a red mark or a blister and absolutely NO PAIN. Now, I keep a bag of flour in the fridge and every time I burn myself, I use the flour and never ONCE have I ever had a red spot, a burn nor a blister! *cold flour feels even better than room temperature flour.

Miracle, if you ask me. Keep a bag of white flour in your fridge and you will be happy you did. I even burnt my tongue and put the flour on it for about 10 minutes. and the pain was gone and no burn. Try it! BTW, don't run your burn area under cold water first, just put it right into the flour for 10 minutes and experience a miracle!

Is there any scientific evidence to back up this claim?

  • would be nice if through, but flower on my tongue, i think there are nicer things ... – Terry Apr 19 '11 at 6:22
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    “this guy was on fire and in their panic, they threw a bag of flour all over him to put the fire out” – no, they did not. The flour would likely have caused a dust explosion. This is ridiculous. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 19 '11 at 12:50
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    @Konrad: That was actually my first thought too. Although, I rationalized it to myself by thinking an explosion happening would depend on how much the flour had dissipated, the intensity of the fire, and probably would be affected by the relative humidity of the environment. All that aside, I was more asking about the later claim of it being able to treat burns, not actively put out the fire. But +1 for stating the obvious, this claim is ridiculous, so ridiculous in fact, I couldn't help putting it up here to be disproved. – Monkey Tuesday Apr 19 '11 at 22:50
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    A dust explosion needs specific air/flower (and oxygen concentration within that air) mixtures. Dumping a very large amount of flour could very well douse the flames by blocking their access to oxygen, just like other powder and foam based fire extinguishers. Assuming the victim is on the floor and only part of him on fire (say the legs), an industrial sized bag of flour should probably be enough for that. Won't cure the burns, but should prevent worse. – jwenting Apr 2 '13 at 13:29
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There is an impossibility in there.

A 2nd degree burn means that you have a blister. What the message is telling with lack of clarity, is:

Get burn, put your burnt part in flour and recover instantly.

If you face this kind of accident, what you are facing is dead cells. The skin in the burn area is no more.

All that is possible at that point is a faster recovery. The email claims instant regeneration.

When you are burnt, it's important to stop the cooking effect by using cold water for 10 minutes or more on the burnt area if the burnt area is not too large. Flour would only help bake the burning area!

If the burnt area is larger than the front arm, seek medical attention.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-burns/FA00022

http://firstaid.about.com/od/injuriesathome/ht/06_burns.htm

Such emails are very stupid jokes that could put somebody's life at risk.

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    Agreed. This is a really bad idea. Snopes has an article on this very email. snopes.com/medical/homecure/flourburns.asp Of course, Snopes is probably just trying to kill you because you are a liberal. – Kevin Apr 19 '11 at 15:59
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    @Kevin Actually, I hear that Snopes is slaughtering lemmings, not people:) – Monkey Tuesday Apr 22 '11 at 5:29
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    When I attended a specialist burns unit a couple of years back, they stressed the importance of not applying anything other than cold water to burns. This applies generally but is particularly true for serious burns, where other substances can hinder professional medical attention. – Colin Pickard May 31 '11 at 13:02
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    Anyone that takes the advice of an email over medical professionals wins a Darwin award. – PointlessSpike May 19 '15 at 7:57
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This question is:

Is there any scientific evidence to back up this claim?

Historically, yes, flour has be recommended by the medical/scientific community as a burn treatment.

In the 1829 CASES OF BURNS TREATED BY THE APPLICATION OF FLOUR Monthly Journal of Foreign Medicine, Volume 3, page 467-468 (reproducing an article from the London Medical and Physical Journal):

Mr. B scalded the back of his hand and finger with steam. He consulted me four days later....By applying flour every hour, in less than two days the swelling, inflammation and ulceration were completely cured...

Mrs. H ... accidently set fire to her clothes...On the free application of flour, the patient ceased to moan, the spirits revived, and she expressed the greatest relief.

According to the 2009 A review of first aid treatments for burn injuries

By 1901, the recommendations for first aid treatment of burns/scalds were clearly segregated depending on wound depth [37], with treatment of flour, whiting or powdered chalk recommended for burns where the skin was “merely reddened”,

it continues

The wide array of different treatments used probably stems from the fact that a raw fresh burn exposed to the air is incredibly painful and simply by covering it (with anything), pain may be relieved to some extent, giving a perceived benefit

so it is true that the flour would at least provide pain relief in this sense.

The article concludes, however:

the recommendations regarding the best first aid treatment for burns should be to use cold running tap water (between 2 and 15 °C) and to not use ice or alternative therapies

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