Six tips for treating burns
1. Assess the burn
It’s important to take a good look at the burnt area before treating the burn. If you are dealing with a third-degree burn, you wouldn’t want to apply ointments and creams of any sort and you should go straight to an emergency room. If you have established that the burn is a mild, first-degree burn, you could treat it without needing medical assistance. Sunburn, for example, would be classified as a first-degree burn.
2. Cool the burn
If the burn hasn’t gone deeper than the first layer of skin and is only on the surface of the skin, then immediately cool the burn down by holding the area under a cold running tap. Do this for up to 10 minutes or until the pain begins to subside. If the skin is not too sensitive, you could apply a cold pack or bag of frozen peas to the area to keep it cool and alleviate the pain.
3. Treat the burn
For first and sometimes even second-degree burns, you could apply petroleum jelly to the area. You could also apply an antibiotic cream or ointment prescribed by your doctor. However, for third-degree burns you would require more serious treatment, including skin grafts and even intravenous antibiotics to prevent infection and IV fluids to replenish lost fluids. If in doubt about your burn, it’s always advisable to visit your doctor.
4. Cover with a gauze or bandage
Keep the burn covered with a non-stick bandage or gauze. Make sure the area is covered and that it is not exposed to the sun, dirt or any other elements that could cause infection. Be very careful not to apply anything that may stick to the wound or that is not sterile.
5. Treat the pain
Burns can be extremely painful, not just when the burn occurs, but also afterwards. You may need to take pain medication to manage the pain. It’s worth noting that it can also be very painful when dressing the wound and cleaning the burn.
6. Continue to monitor
Monitor your burn and be sure to keep the wound clean and sterile. Do not pop any blisters that may form.
Remember to consult a doctor if you need to treat more serious burns. You could cause more damage to the burn or wound by not treating it correctly.
What are the different ‘degrees’ of burns?
According to WebMD, first-, second- and third-degree burns are classified as follows:
These are mild compared to other burns. They result in pain and reddening of the epidermis (outer layer of the skin).
Second-degree burns affect the epidermis and the dermis (lower layer of skin). They cause pain, redness, swelling and blistering.
These burns are severe. They penetrate the dermis and affect deeper tissues. They result in white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.