Burns: Prevention and Treatment tips from Medical

With the coming of the seasonal bond fires, candles in pumpkins and turkey deep fryers, I thought some information about burns might be useful for this month’s article.

burn is damage to your body's tissues caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight, or radiation. Scalds from hot liquids and steam, building fires and flammable liquids and gases are the most common causes of burns.

Another kind is an inhalation injury, caused by breathing smoke

There are three types of burns:

  1. First-degree burns. This is the least serious type of burn. It only affects the outermost layer of the skin, known as the epidermis. First-degree burns may cause pain and redness, but no blisters or open sores. A sunburn is a common type of first-degree burn. First-degree burns usually go away within a week or so. At-home treatments may include soaking the area in cool water and dressing it with a sterile bandage. Over-the-counter pain medicines can also relieve minor burn pain.
  2. Second-degree burns, also called partial thickness burns. These burns are more serious than first-degree burns. Second-degree burns affect the outer and the middle layer of the skin, known as the dermis. They can cause pain, redness, and blisters. Some second-degree burns can be treated with antibiotic creams and sterile bandages. More serious second-degree burns may need a procedure known as a skin graft. A skin graft uses natural or artificial skin to cover and protect the injured area while it heals. Second-degree burns can cause scarring.
  3. Third-degree burns, also called full thickness burns. This is a very serious type of burn. It affects the outer, middle, and innermost layers of the skin. The innermost layer is known as the fat layer. Third-degree burns often damage hair follicles, sweat glands, nerve endings, and other tissues in the skin. These burns can be severely painful. But if pain-sensing nerve cells have been damaged, there may be little or no pain at first. These burns can cause severe scarring and usually need to be treated with skin grafts.

Treating minor burns

  • Cool the burn. Hold the burned area under cool (not cold) running water or apply a cool, wet compress until the pain eases.
  • Remove rings or other tight items from the burned area. Try to do this quickly and gently, before the area swells.
  • Don't break blisters. Fluid-filled blisters protect against infection. If a blister breaks, clean the area with water (mild soap is optional). Apply an antibiotic ointment. But if a rash appears, stop using the ointment.
  • Apply lotion. Once a burn is completely cooled, apply a lotion, such as one that contains aloe vera or a moisturizer. This helps prevent drying and provides relief.
  • Bandage the burn. Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage (not fluffy cotton). Wrap it loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the area, reduces pain and protects blistered skin.
  • If needed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

Some precautions to prevent burns:

  • Set your water heater to 120°F.
  • Test the water temperature before you or your child gets into the tub or shower.
  • Turn handles of pots and pans toward the back of the stove, or use back burners.
  • Use smoke alarms in your home and check batteries every six months.
  • Check electrical cords every few months. Throw out any that are frayed or damaged.
  • Put covers on electrical outlets that are within a child's reach.
  • If you smoke, never smoke in bed. Fires caused by cigarettes, pipes, and cigars are the leading cause of deaths in house fires.
  • Be very careful when using space heaters. Keep them away from blankets, clothes, and other flammable materials. Never leave them unattended.
  • Watch Safety videos before attempting to use a deep fryer.

Have fun but be cautious.

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