The first thing that you have to do with burns is make out whether it is a serious burn or not. This will tell you the damage that has been caused to the tissues in the body. Burns are classified into three categories – first degree burns, second degree burns and third degree burns. Assessing this ultimate guide for First AID For Burns and Scalds will throw light on the care that is needed.
First AID For Burns and Scalds: Ultimate Guide
First degree burns – This comes the lowest in the level of severity of burns as only the outer layer of the skin is affected and that too only on the surface:
- Most probably the skin has turned red
- There may be some swelling
- There will be some pain
A first degree burn can be considered a minor burn unless it has affected large portions of feet, hands, groin, face or buttocks or a joint. In such cases you need to get emergency help.
Second degree burn: In such cases the top layer of the skin is burned and the second layer is also burned. In such cases, you will see:
- Blisters breaking out
- The skin has a really severely darkened red and splotchy look
- There is a lot of pain and you can also notice swelling
In case the second-degree burn is not bigger than an area of 3 inches in diameter, you can take it and treat it as a minor burn. But in case the affected area is larger, or if the burn is on the limbs, the posterior, groin or a joint then it needs to be considered as a major burn and needs to be treated accordingly. You should seek a doctor’s help at once
For burns that are minor, whether first degree or second degree of less than 3 inches, you can do the things given below:
- First thing you should do is cool the burn down by holding the affected area under cool water from a tap for about 15 minutes or till the pain comes down. If this is not possible, try and dip the burned area in cold water or apply cold water compresses to the area. This process will reduce the swelling by keeping the heat away from the skin. But do not use ice to apply on the brain
- Try and close the burn with sterile bandage. Do not use cotton or such other material as the fluff from the material will add particles on the burned area. Try and wrap the gauze loosely to keep the pressure from being applied on the material. Tying a bandage will keep the air away from the burn and will protect the skin
- Take some medication that will help relieve the pain. Do be careful while giving aspirin to children or teens.
Normally burns that are minor will normally heal without much further treatment. However you may notice some change in the area of the burn like change in pigment. Do keep an eye out for any indication of infection like increase in the pain, increased redness, fever or any oozing. In case you feel there is infection, do seek the attention and advice of a medical professional. Try and protect the burned area to ensure that the pigmentation problems are curtailed.
- Do not put ice on the burned area as this may cause the body to become too cold and cause further problems
- Do not apply butter, egg whites or any other ointment to the burned area, as this could result in infection.
- Do not touch or break the blister as they become more vulnerable to infection.
Third degree burns: The more serious kind of burns will be covering all layers of the skin and could result in permanent damage. Even the fat, muscle and sometimes bone could also be damaged. The areas that are affected may be burned black or appear to be white and dry. There may be difficulty in breathing and there are possibilities of carbon monoxide poisoning or other toxic results due to the inhalation of smoke from the burn.
Do call emergency help for such burns. Till such time that the emergency help comes, you can do the following:
- Try not to remove the clothing that is burned, simply move the person away from the burnt material that is smoldering
- Do not dip in cold water for severe burns as this could result in shock
- Do look for signs of problems with breathing. Start CPR if required
- Keep the burned parts elevated
- Cover the burned area with a clean and moist cloth
Do get a shot of tetanus as burns are more vulnerable to tetanus. Medical professionals advice that you get a tetanus shot once every 10 years. In case your last shot was more that 5 years ago, you may have to get a booster shot.