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Burn Awareness Week: How to Treat Burn Injuries

The first step is to stop the burning to prevent a more severe injury, each type of burn has different protocol for immediate treatment. After immediate action, you should assess your injuries and act accordingly.

What to do Immediately After a Burn

  • Heat Burns: Cover any open flames with a blanket or water. Assess your burn after.
  • Cold Temperature Burns: Warm the areas of your body that are affected through blowing warm air in them, tucking them inside your clothing, or submerging them in warm water.
  • Liquid Scald Burns: Run cool tap water over the burn for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Electrical Burns: Check for steady breathing such as a heartbeat or pulse. If the individual is not breathing call 911 immediately.
  • Chemical Burns: Find out what chemical caused the burn. Call your local Poison Control Center or the National Poison Control Hotline (1-800-222-1222) for more information on treatment for the burn.
  • Tar or Hot Plastic Burns: Immediately run cold water over the hot tar or hot plastic to cool the tar or plastic.

How to Evaluate Your Burn

  • First Degree: First degree burns affect the top-most layer of the skin and are characterized by redness, minor inflammation or swelling, pain.
  • Second Degree: Also called partial thickness burns, second degree burns damage the first and second layers of skin and may affect deeper skin layers. These burns cause the skin to blister and are characterized by extreme redness and soreness.
  • Third Degree: Third degree burns or full thickness burns injure all the skin layers and skin tissue and require medical treatment. These burns are so extensive that there may not be pain because of nerve damage. Look for charred skin or skin with a waxy or whit color. Skin may also appear raised or leathery.
  • Fourth Degree: These burns extend past the skin to the muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and bones, always requiring medical treatment
Follow Up Actions
  • Look for other injuries besides the burn
  • Remove any items from the burn such as jewelry or clothing. If an article of clothing is stuck to the burn do not detach it. Cut around the stuck fabric, removing any loose fabric.
Preparing to See a Doctor
  • Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Refrain from applying any salve or medicine to the injury so your doctor will be able to properly assess the burn.
  • Refrain from applying ice or butter to the burn, this may damage the skin tissue.

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