Using natural remedies such as medical-grade for minor burns, cuts, rashes, and bug bites is a common practice that’s been around for centuries.

When a burn is minor or classified as first degree, the goal of treating it at home is to help reduce pain and inflammation while it heals. Although medical-grade honey is a popular option for at-home treatments, it’s only safe to use on certain burns.

Here are 10 things to know to use honey for burns.

Yes, you can treat some minor burns at home with natural remedies, but before you do, you’ll want to understand the different types of burns.

There are four primary burn classifications, according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

  • First degree burns. These mild burns are painful and cause minor reddening of the outer layer of skin.
  • Second degree burns. These are more severe than a mild burn because they also affect the lower layer of skin and cause pain, swelling, blistering, and redness.
  • Third degree burns. These very serious burns can damage or completely destroy both layers of skin. These need immediate medical attention.
  • Fourth degree burns. In addition to the injury from third degree burns, fourth degree burns also extend into the fat. Again, immediate medical attention is required.

In addition to these four primary classifications, fifth degree burns extend into your muscle and damage from sixth degree burns extend to the bone.

Instead of reaching for the honey you slather on a peanut butter sandwich, there are some common forms of honey products you’ll come across, including medical-grade honey.

Medical-grade honey is sterilized and contains honey from bees that collect pollen from the trees in Australia and New Zealand.

A 2014 article reported that the current use of medical-grade honey consists of first and second degree burns, acute and chronic wounds, abrasions, pressure ulcers, and leg and foot ulcers.

Robert Williams, MD, a family medicine doctor and medical advisor, says medical-grade honey products are available as a gel, paste, and added into adhesive, alginate, and colloid dressings.

If you have a mild to moderate superficial burn, sufficient evidence exists that you can use honey to manage the wound. One review found that honey has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

If you have a burn that is beyond the moderate stage, be sure to contact your doctor or healthcare provider.

A literature review assessed the effects of honey compared with alternative wound dressings and topicals for acute wounds, such as burns.

It found that topical use of honey appears to heal partial thickness burns more quickly than other treatments, such as paraffin gauze, sterile linen, polyurethane film, or leaving the burn exposed.

Unless you want sticky fingers for the rest of the day, consider applying the honey to a sterile pad or gauze rather than directly on the burn. Then, place the dressing over the burn. To avoid the mess, you also can buy a medical-grade dressing that comes with honey already applied.

“Using medical-grade honey first requires a visit to a physician to assess the wounds and make sure there is no infection or need for surgical intervention,” says Williams.

After the burn is cleaned and appropriately debrided, if necessary, by a professional, Williams says honey in one of its various sterile forms may be applied up to three times a day, changing the wound dressing each time.

Before you head to the drug store, do some research on the different manufacturers that sell honey for burns. According to Williams, the following manufacturers typically offer safe and sterile products:

  • Activon
  • Manuka Health
  • Medihoney
  • MelMax
  • L-Mesitran

Medihoney Gel Wound & Burn Dressing is a specific brand of medical-grade honey that contains manuka honey, otherwise known as Leptospermum scoparium. It comes with a medical honey dressing that you can place over the burn. Consult your doctor before using this product.

Skip the home remedies and seek medical attention for any burn that includes more sensitive areas such as the:

  • hands
  • face
  • feet
  • groin area

You should also see your doctor and avoid home burn treatment if the first degree burn covers a large area, typically more than 3 inches in diameter, or if you’re an older adult or treating a burn on an infant.

Honey may have efficacy for partial thickness or superficial burns, but Williams says the evidence is promising but needs further research.

When it comes to treating burns at home, the first thing to consider is the type of burn. In general, using medical-grade honey is a safe topical option for minor, first degree burns.

If you have any concerns about a burn, you’re not sure how severe it is, or you have questions about the best products to use, consult your doctor.