Burn Care – First Aid Basics

If you or your child has a burn or scald, start by checking how bad the injury is. Burns and scalds above the neck could affect breathing or vision. A scald is a burn caused by hot liquid or steam. You can treat scalds in the same way as burns.

Identifying the degree and scope of tissue damage is the first step in differentiating between a small burn and a major burn. You can decide on emergency care using the three categories of first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns:

Dealing with Severe Burns

First degree burn: A first first degree burn affects the epidermis of the skin which is the least harmful. The skin is often red, and occasionally there is swelling and discomfort. The skin’s top layer has not yet been burnt away. First-degree burns should be treated as mild burns unless they significantly affect the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint.

Second degree burn: The damage is referred to as a second-degree burn when the first layer of skin has been burned through and the second layer of skin (dermis) has also been scorched. The skin becomes severely reddish and splotchy, and blisters form. Burns of the second degree cause excruciating agony and edema.

Treat a second-degree burn as a mild burn if its diameter is less than 3 inches (7.5 centimetres). Treat the burn as a significant burn and seek emergency medical attention if the burnt area is greater, if it is on the hands, feet, face, groin, or buttocks, or if it is over a major joint.

Take the following steps if you have a mild burn, such as a first- or second-degree burn that isn’t more than 3 inches (7.5 centimetres) in diameter:

  • cool the burn. For at least five minutes, or until the pain stops, hold the burnt area under cool running water. If this is not feasible, cool the burn by submerging it in cold water or applying cold compresses. By transferring heat away from the skin, cooling a burn helps to minimise swelling. Avoid applying ice to the burn.
  • Put a clean gauze bandage over the burn. Use only smooth cotton; puffy cotton could hurt the skin. To prevent pressing on the burnt skin, wrap the gauze loosely. In addition to reducing discomfort and protecting blistering skin, bandaging keeps air away from burnt skin.
  • Consider taking an over-the-counter painkiller. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, among others), naproxen (Aleve), and acetaminophen are a few of them (Tylenol, others). Never provide aspirin to young people or children.

Minor burns typically heal on their own without further care. They could recover with changes in skin colour, so the healed region might be a different shade from the surrounding skin. Keep an eye out for infection-related symptoms such heightened pain, redness, fever, swelling, or oozing. If an infection starts, get medical attention. If the burns are less than a year old, refrain from being hurt again or tanning since doing so might result in more significant pigmentation alterations. For at least a year, protect the region with sunscreen.

Take Caution – Avoid

  • Avoid using ice. Frostbite can result from applying ice straight to a burn, severely harming your skin.
  • Applying butter or creams to the burn is not advised. This could obstruct effective healing.
  • Avoid popping blisters. Blistering wounds are susceptible to infection.

Third degree burns: Burns of the third degree are the most severe and are painless, affecting all skin layers and resulting in permanent tissue damage. It may impact bone, fat, or even muscle. There might be burnt black spots or dry, white areas. Smoke inhalation may result in difficulty breathing in and out, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other hazardous symptoms.

If you have severe burns, call 112 or emergency medical services. In the meanwhile, do the following actions:

  1. Keep burned garments in place. However, be sure the victim is no longer in the vicinity of burning objects or exposed to heat or smoke.
  2. Large, serious burns shouldn’t be submerged in cold water. This might stun someone.
  3. Look for circulation indicators (breathing, coughing or movement). Start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the patient is not breathing or showing any other signs of circulation.
  4. The charred bodily portion or parts should be raised. Raise whenever feasible above heart level.
  5. The burn area should be covered. Use a clean, wet cloth, moist towels, or a cold, moist, sterile bandage.

Getting medical attention

When to call an ambulance?

Call 112 or 999 for an ambulance if:

  • the burn or scald is above the neck
  • your child has difficulty breathing
  • your child is unresponsive

To conclude, burn wounds come in 3 levels, First degree burns are the least harmful; it usually involves redness and some swelling. Second degree burns are when the first layer of skin is burned off and the second layer has been scorched. The skin will form blisters and become severely reddish. Third degree burns are the most harmful, involving all skin layers and are painless resulting in permanent damage. At MediChem we have several burn care products, such as cooling gels and burn dressings for minor burn damage. Remember all degrees of burn damage need medical attention, when someone is suffering from second or third degree burns call the emergency services. 

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