First Aid Burns

Many injuries can take place within the rooms of a home. Skinned knees, scraped elbows, and broken bones are common mishaps accrued by children and adults alike in and around the home, school, or workplace. A less common ailment that can happen in any of these places is a burn, and it is important to know how to treat burns should you or someone around you experience one.

The first step to treating a burn is to identify it as a major or minor burn. There are three degrees to burns, and each can be categorized as major or minor.

A first degree burn involves redness, swelling, and pain. It only effects the outer layer of skin and is the least serious burn type. A first degree burn can be categorized as a minor burn and is treated using cool water to soothe the pain and applying moisturizer or aloe vera lotion or gel to the burn.

Other treatments for minor burns provided by the Mayo Clinic website include:

  • Cool the burn to help soothe the pain. Hold the burned area under cool (not cold) running water for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pain eases. Or apply a clean towel dampened with cool tap water.
  • Remove rings or other tight items from the burned area. Try to do this quickly and gently, before the area swells.
  • Don’t break small blisters (no bigger than your little fingernail). If blisters break, gently clean the area with mild soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover it with a nonstick gauze bandage.
  • Apply moisturizer or aloe vera lotion or gel, which may provide relief in some cases.
  • If needed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
  • Consider a tetanus shot. Make sure that your tetanus booster is up to date. Doctors recommend people get a tetanus shot at least every 10 years.Treatments for major burns provided by the Mayo Clinic include:
  • Call 911 or emergency medical help for major burns. Until an emergency unit arrives, take these actions:
  • Some second degree burns, though more severe than first degree burns, can be treated using the minor burn methods as well. A second degree burn can be diagnosed by red, white, or splotchy skin along with swelling, pain, or blisters. If the burn is no larger than three inches, then it can be treated as a minor burn. If the burn is larger than three inches, then it should be treated as a major burn.
  • Protect the burned person from further harm. If you can do so safely, make sure the person you’re helping is not in contact with smoldering materials or exposed to smoke or heat. But don’t remove burned clothing stuck to the skin.
  • Check for signs of circulation. Look for breathing, coughing or movement. Begin CPR if needed.
  • Remove jewelry, belts and other restrictive items, especially from around burned areas and the neck. Burned areas swell rapidly.
  • Don’t immerse large severe burns in cold water. Doing so could cause a serious loss of body heat (hypothermia) or a drop in blood pressure and decreased blood flow (shock).
  • Elevate the burned area. Raise the wound above heart level, if possible.
  • Cover the area of the burn. Use a cool, moist, bandage or a clean cloth.Burns, like other household accidents, are not planned and take us by surprise. Knowing how to take care of a burn and if emergency personnel should be called is half of the battle back to wellness. Remember to identify the burn first, and, if ever in doubt, consult a doctor for treatment options. It is always better to be safe than to be sorry.
  • Finally, the burn with the most severity to its victim is a third degree burn. These burns effect all layers of the skin and underlying fat. In some cases, muscle and bone can be harmed as well. A third degree burn is identified by black or white charring at the site, difficulty breathing, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other signs of smoke inhalation. Third degree burns are the most serious, and emergency personnel should be called.