Burns are among the most common household injuries, especially when you have children. If you’re not careful, there are plenty of ways that a person can get burned even within the comforts of home.
Following proper storage tips and safety measures can help reduce the risk of burns. Because you can never anticipate when they’ll happen, however, it’s crucial to know how to treat them to reduce the damage and prevent complications to the injury.
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What are burns and how are they classified?
A burn is a type of injury to the skin or other tissue that’s caused by heat, cold, chemicals, electricity, friction, or radiation. Burns are generally categorised by the depth of damage to the tissue.
- First-degree burns: Surface burns that cause local skin inflammation.
- Second-degree burns: These are usually deeper and may cause redness, inflammation, pain, and in some cases, blistering.
- Third-degree burns: They are even deeper than second-degree burns, and they destroy the two upper layers of the skin. Instead of redness, the flesh appears black, brown, white, or yellow.
- Fourth-degree burns: This is the most severe type of burn. They destroy all layers of the skin, as well as parts of the bones, muscles, and tendons. They are potentially life-threatening.
How to handle burns at home?
You are more likely to be equipped to handle burns when you have knowledge of emergency treatment. Signing up for a first aid course in Gold Coast or other major cities can give you a significant advantage not just for burn-related injuries, but other injuries that may affect you or your family.
The following are some dos and don’ts that should be used when taking care of burns at home.
1. Run cool water over the burn.
The first thing you should do is to cool the burn by using cool compresses, or by holding burned skin under cool running water until the pain diminishes. Do this for about 20 minutes.
2. Clean the burn.
After the burned area has cooled down, it’s important to clean the affected area thoroughly to prevent infections. For this, use mild antibacterial soap while taking care not to use scrubbing motions on the area.
3. Use bandages.
A bandage can act as a barrier against infections, especially if the burn is prone to chafing or dirt. Bandages are also ideal when there are oozing blisters.
Moreover, avoid wrapping bandages tightly or applying sticky bandages onto the burned area.
4. Apply antibiotic ointments.
If your burn has open blisters, antibiotic creams and ointments can provide an additional barrier against external irritants, prevent infections, and speed up the healing process.
5. Consider over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications.
Depending on the size of the affected area and degree of your burns, you may want to take pain relievers to reduce the pain and swelling. This is recommended when you’re about to sleep so you can give your body the rest it needs for faster recovery.
6. Reduce sun exposure.
Exposing a burn to direct sunlight will only make it worse. With that in mind, keep the affected areas covered if you need to travel in broad daylight as they are very sensitive to the sun.
7. Never pop blisters.
As tempting as they are, never pop your blisters. This can often exacerbate an infection if not done properly. If the blisters are interfering with your daily life, talk to a medical professional to see what can be done.
When to seek professional help for your burns
First- and second-degree burns normally do not require professional medical help, especially if first aid treatment has been applied. Seeing a doctor is recommended in the following situations:
- The first- or second-degree burn shows signs of worsening
- Affected areas of the skin are larger than 7 cm
- You develop a fever from the burn
- The wound has become smelly and painful
- You suspect you have a third-degree burn or worse
Third- and fourth-degree burns should never be treated at home as improper treatment may lead to serious complications.
Most cases of burns can easily be handled at home
As mentioned above, having first aid training can be extremely helpful in treating mild burns. However, take note that burn injuries are also pretty common—it’s good to have a first aid kit ready so you can help your family members recover faster.