Identifying and Treating Burn Injuries
Burns are the most common type of skin injury to occur in American households. They happen easily to children due to the many dangers, such as scalding water or electrical cords and the fact that children are inherently curious but adults are susceptible as well.
Types of Burns
- First degree: first-degree burns only affect the top layer of the skin known as the epidermis. They usually heal quickly on their own or with little treatment and do not need serious medical attention.
- Second degree: second-degree burns affect both the epidermis as well as the layer underneath it, known as the dermis. If the dermis is deeply burned to the point where the internal organelles are affected, grafting (plastic surgery) may be required. If the epithelial cells grow back by themselves, then grafting will not be necessary.
- Third degree: These types of burns completely damage the epidermis and dermis and may even harm layers of muscle and/or fat underneath. Grafting is usually done to treat these.
Identifying the Type of Burn
- First degree burns: redness, pain and minor swelling.
- Second degree burns: redness, blisters, severe pain; blisters may rupture leaving the area looking slightly pink/red and wet.
- Third degree burns: Area may be numb or painless due to nerve damage; waxy white, leathery, charred, brown and/or dry.
How to Treat a Burn
First Degree Burn Treatment:
- Move away from the source of burn and remove all clothing from inflicted area.
- Run COOL water over area or put cold compress over it – DO NOT use ice on the area.
- Put cream or aloe gel on the burn up to a few times a day and use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain.
- If area is very small, keep it clean. Apply sterile bandage and gauze for 24 hours – do not use adhesives for small children.
Second Degree and Third Degree Burn Treatment:
- Call for emergency medical care immediately.
- Then, keep individual lying down but have the inflicted area elevated and do same procedure as for first degree burns.
- Remove jewelry or clothing from around the burned skin EXCEPT for anything actually stuck to the skin.
- Apply cool water to the area for three to five minutes then cover with clean cloth until medical personnel arrive.
- DO NOT cause any blisters to break.