First Aid Burns:
to Treat Burns with First Aid
By Dr. Ben
can get burned by a number of different sources, the most common
of which are hot liquids, hot objects, chemicals, steam, electricity,
the sun, and fire.
diagnostic and treatment purposes, burns are generally categorized
into the following three classifications:
burn is the least serious type of burn that you can suffer, and
involves only the outermost layer of your skin, called your epidermis.
skin will likely be reddened and painful. It can also be swollen.
general, if a first-degree burn does not cover a significant portion
of your body, it can be treated at home.
burn is one in which the second layer of your skin (called your
hypodermis) is also burned. In this type of burn, your skin will
be extremely red with a spotted or blotchy appearance, and you will
probably have blisters in the area of the burn.
burn typically causes severe pain and swelling.
you suffer a small and localized second-degree burn - no more than
a few inches in diameter - you might be able to treat it effectively
at home. If the burned region is larger than this, or has occurred
on your face, hands, feet, groin, buttocks, or a major joint, it
is best to go to your doctor or local hospital for professional
burn involves all layers of your skin, and possibly structures that
are below your skin as well. Some areas of a third-degree burn are
often charred black. You may experience severe pain, but if a nerve
has been damaged by the burn, it is possible that you will feel
little to no pain. All third-degree burns require immediate emergency
to Treat a Minor Burn at Home
first step that you should take to treat a minor burn is to hold
it under cold, running water for 10 to 15 minutes. If cold, running
water is not available, immerse the burn in cold water or cover
it with cold compresses. Be sure not to put ice directly
against the burn; direct contact with ice can cause frostbite
and more damage.
not apply butter to the burn. Butter will trap heat in the damaged
tissues, which can potentially cause more damage and increase
your chance of developing an infection.
the burn has cooled via cold water or compress exposure, apply
lotion to the area. Lotion may soothe any discomfort that you
feel, and will also prevent dryness.
the burn is moisturized, cover it with a sterile gauze bandage.
Just be sure to wrap the burn loosely to avoid putting too much
pressure on the wound.
in order to prevent infection, your body will produce fluid-filled
blisters. Do not break these blisters - they will resolve on their
own. If they break on their own, you can wash the area with water
and plain soap, dry it, then apply an antibiotic ointment and
a loosely wrapped sterile gauze bandage. It is fine to trim off
dead skin from popped blisters.
needed, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen
until the pain is tolerable.
to Treat Major Burns
all major burns, seek medical care as soon as possible.
sure that the cause of the burn has been eliminated, but do not
remove burned clothing that has adhered to your skin.
you receive emergency medical treatment, cover the burned region
with a dry, sterile bandage or a clean cloth. Use a cotton bed
sheet for large areas. Do not use blankets or towels, as both
have a tendency to stick to burns.
not apply ointments or try to break blisters.
on Treating Chemical Burns
cold, running water to completely flush chemicals off your body.
If the chemical is a powder, such as lime, use a brush to remove
it from the skin before flushing with water.
sure to remove any jewelry or clothing that has been in contact
with the chemical.
there continues to be a burning sensation after washing the area
with cold water, flush the area for another several minutes with
cold, running water.
the burned region with a clean cloth or a dry, sterile gauze bandage.
a chemical comes into contact with your eyes, flush your eyes with
water immediately. Do not worry about finding sterile water; the
most critical objective is to begin flushing as soon as possible.
Flush your eyes with water for at least 20 minutes. After washing,
close your eyelids and cover them with loose, moist dressings before
seeking medical care with someone's assistance.
on Treating Electrical Burns
electrical burns should be evaluated by a physician for two reasons:
though the burn may appear to be a minor one, damage may have
occurred deep into the underlying tissues.
burns can sometimes result in an irregular heart beat.
Scott C. Mayo Clinic Family Health Book. New York: HarperCollins,
Mick J. Mosby's Paramedic Textbook. St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby-Year
Book, Inc., 1994
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