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When you touch something hot... Get instant relief from a burn

Submitted by Steve Martin

As you're undoubtedly aware, the parts of the body which receive the most burns, scalds and blisters are the finger tips, particularly the tips of the index, middle finger, and thumb of your preferred hand.

You know the feeling - you accidentally or unwittingly touch something which is very hot and the tip of your finger 'lights up' with an intense stinging pain. Well, here's a tip which came from my great grandmother, (I remember her speaking about it to my mum and gran when I was young)... The moment you get burned, touch the tip of the offended finger to your ear-lobe. You will find that if you do this quickly enough, the stinging will go away almost instantaneously and there'll be no lasting pain or damage!

Why does this work? Well, I've examined the problem scientifically and I can tell you and my dear old granny, (if she were still with us), that it's all about heat conductivity…

You see, when your finger tip touches something hot, kinetic energy is transferred to your finger tip which is poorly conductive. It will, therefore, linger there for a few moments and the immediate pain you feel is that energy firing off pain receptors, (while also 'burning up' and destroying healthy cells in your finger tip!)

What happens when you touch your ear lobe? Well, have you ever noticed that your ear lobes always feel slightly cooler than the rest of you? That's because the fatty tissue and cartilage in there is a particularly good conductor of heat. So good in fact that if you can manage to make your reflexive response to the pain in your finger tip be to quickly touch that finger to your lobe, the laws of thermo dynamics mean that the heat will be conducted away very quickly, (because of the conductivity differential between finger tip and ear lobe), stopping those pain receptors from firing, and even preventing the destruction of healthy cells by heat which would have otherwise lingered in your poorly conductive finger tip for several moments longer!

So, the next time you catch a finger in a flame, touch a hot pan on the stove, decide to test a soldering iron the SILLY way or whatever, you know what to do - just whip that finger STRAIGHT to your ear lobe!

(By the way, don't worry about your ear, the fat cells in your lobe will be just fine, all you'll feel is immediate and sweet relief from that terrible stinging!)

Visitors comments

Practical Experience with finger burns Comments By: Bob Short on 2004-10-30
I am not a scientist but I have had almost sixty years experience putting burned fingers and other hand parts on the ear lobe to keep the burn from hurting more than a few hours and keep it from blistering.
The scientifice explanation hear does not hold water against my personal experience, many times a year for many years.
First misstatement, the pain does not stop immediately, in fact the pain level is slightly more while it is on the ear. The pain will stop in a short time unless it is touched or put in warm water, all pain will stop in a few hours and will not return, also the burn will not blister. The mater of tissue damage; I have personally had burns on two fingers and my thumb from touching hot steel (over 1000 deg.F). These burns were checked by a Doctor who said one place was a third degree burn and others were second degree. The only treatment was the ear lobe. This burn healed completely without a blister or pain after the first four hours. This disproves the theory of heat transfer to prevent tissue damage. I feel many years of personal experience are worth more than scientific theory. I can't explain why or how it works, I just know it does work every time, if done right.

Well Bob, I AM a scientist... Comments By: Steve Martin on 2006-10-01
Just thought I'd make a rebutal to Bob Short's comments...

If heat conductivity is not the mechanism which makes this tip work Bob, then what is? Invisible fairies who live on your ear lobes?

Regarding the action on pain, your comments are just plain wrong in my experience; while I don't have your 60 years, I think my 25 years or so using this method are quite sufficient; I have always found that getting the burned digit to my ear lobe quickly enough, (i.e. while it still has that immediate and intense initial stinging), gives instant and effective relief from the pain. Of course, if the amount of heat involved was far greater, as in your 1000 degree experience, this may not be so true, but in general terms touching the ear lobe; 1. gives relief from stinging pain, and 2. prevents subsequent blistering of the burned area.

By your own admission Bob, you are 'not a scientist' and this is quite plain by your comments, I put it to you and anyone else who cares to read / use this tip that conductivity of latent heat is the ONLY viable scientific explanation for the effectivness of this method. Of course, if you want to believe in ear lobe fairies or similar, that's up to you ;o)

I also note that you only scored the tip 1 star; considering that your own comments attest to it's effectivness, (aside from your non-scientific arguments regarding my explanation), that is blatantly unfair!

U are correct! Comments By: Brenda Abbarossa on 2007-11-28
<font color =sexypurple>yes,yes,yes
i am also a scientist well actually a science professor at Yale.
I think that the scientist above is firmly correct and knows what he is talking about Bravo!<font color =black>

Ha Comments By: Yale Biology Student on 2008-01-09
I find it amusing when those who cannot spell or write with proper grammar claim to be scientists, or professors at Yale :)
Also interesting... Comments By: Charles Marlee on 2008-03-26
Don't you love people that go on blogs and chatrooms and correct spelling and grammar?

Btw, the tip always worked for me:)

grammar and spelling Comments By: Ahhah on 2008-03-26
I type their "output" and never was there a group more likely to mangle grammar and spelling :-)
Tru bot not common knowlage Comments By: Chilly on 2008-07-15
A lot of peaple are not aware of this and people sould be educated about this in work places
Proof Comments By: Anon on 2008-07-27
I burnt my index finger on a hot knife, I searched 'what to do if you slightly burn finger' on google and found this advice. Pain Gone.
no Comments By: anon on 2008-07-30
i did this right after i got burned but it didn't work at all.
Didn't work, but my earlobe is safe Comments By: Carlene on 2008-10-18
I tried this method after burning my hand with lighter fluid. Unfortunately, it didn't really work, and my hand has blistered, but maybe that was due to the fuel. Unfortunately, I also burned my earlobe, I guess there was residual fire on my hand wounds. Though my hand has blistered, my earlobe is just fine though - it actually didn't blister at all despite being on fire! Is that because of the fat cells and cartilage?

leol Comments By: Anon on 2008-11-07
lol my mate just burnt himself so i looked this up and he put his inside of his finger on his earlobe lol he looks funny
You are nuts if you believe this Comments By: Qualification: Biomedical Degree on 2009-03-07
No further comments needed.
Been doing it for almost 40 years. Comments By: Steve Clement on 2009-04-10
I first heard about this in Jr. High School. Somehow I remembered the advice when I touched the screen top of a beaker stand that had been over a bunsen burner. (dumb move I know) After quickly grabbing my earlobe, the pain subsided almost completely, though my fingertip retained the crisscross impression from the screen. I became a believer, and have been using the technique for almost 40 years. You do have to get your fingertips up to your earlobe fairly quickly. If you cuss and shake your hand for five seconds before remembering, it is not nearly as effective.
ouch!!!! Comments By: D on 2009-04-22
I'm 53 never heard of such a bizarre thing but I was desperate for instant relief...I didn't think it was working til I pulled my finger away from my earlobe...throbbing pain gone...wow..thanks!
feels like an 8 degree burn Comments By: Tigerlily on 2010-02-17
I was just making toffee about 20 mins ago and i touched it and SCOLDED my finger. ive never felt anything like it. It hurts sooooooooo much ive never been in so much pain
What? Comments By: John on 2010-05-07
I saw my girlfriend do this last night and I about fell over. I asked her if she knew the truth about Santa as well. If you do this when you burn yourself and your finger does not blister all it means is that your finger was not going to blister anyway...idiots.
It WORKED for me !!! Comments By: Laura on 2010-05-15
I dont give a what anyone says...I just burned 3 of my fingers on my dryer ( Dont ask ) and sure enough, I am now roataing all three fingers over the one ear lobe...and the pain is almost gone....I'm typing this with BOTH hands so that should say something...who would of thought that touching your ear lobe works for a burn on your finger tips...BUT IT DOES !!!
super great tip!! Comments By: skittlesgirl on 2010-06-05
i burnt my finger about an hour ago and i've been walking around holdingice and it just kept hurting so i looked up what to do and found this well my finger doesnt hurt anymore this is great!!!
GREAT!!!! Comments By: BAMF-ME_corey on 2010-06-14
My brother tried everything before this, they didnt help at all. He tried this and it worked perfectly in about 1 1/2 minutes. Thx for your great help, i will do this for life i am 16
IF YOU TRY THIS WITHIN 20SECS....IT WORKS Comments By: DAVID LEE on 2010-07-15
HELLO EVERYONE, Just wanted to say that I tried this remedy with a minor burn from touching a hot nipple ring. I put my finger on my earlobes... and it didn't work... so I put my fingertip up my own ass... and walla! It worked... no more pain! I would highly recommend anyone reading this should try this. Why you think faggots have such cool penis, and you need to be ass fucked vigorously if you believe that you can find real help on the internet!
TRY ITT!!!! Comments By: jayhawks2010 on 2010-07-31
No one believes me in my group, but i promise it works
are you all so bloody stupid Comments By: Peter Weston on 2010-08-21
Its all going to be relative to many factors. The most being the intensity and duration of heat exposed to the finger tips then the amount of residual heat that you are trying to transfer to the earlobe. then comes a point where no more heat is able to be transferred as the heat becomes equal and dissipates.
Disappointed in Mr. 25 year old scientist Comments By: Debbra on 2010-11-09
You should be disappointed in yourself for being disrespectful to your elders. People have the right to share their experiences or advise its up to the individual to take it.I like to hear from old wise tales to scientific advice , who cares.Everyone attitudes on this site stinks. It's what I call STINKING THINKING.What happened to just if you can't say something without being nice in a corrective way then don't.
old wives tales Comments By: Dalyn on 2010-12-30
You mean er, old wives tales there sport?
Anyone tried granite? Comments By: Susan L on 2011-02-04
This isn't about a burn per se, but it could be related. My Mom got granite countertops. She was told - and she has found out that it's true - that a hot pan placed directly on a slab of granite cools off rather quickly. And something frozen will warm up. Apparently, the granite moderates the extremes of temperature. There is a scientific reason, but I don't have the details. At any rate, my Mom always thaws her meat on the countertop now! I'm curious now if it will help a burn - let me know if anyone tries it.
This method works Comments By: belmorts on 2011-04-11
I scolded my two fingers on hot toffee, I put my fingers under running tap for a moment and still in pain. Looked up google and came across this way of healing my burned fingers and was amazed by that it does work, I am now not in pain but do have blisters that i can live with but not the pain. thanks to the person who came up with this method.

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