How to treat a burn


Burn injuries happen in many ways, often when you least expect it. From flames to boiling water, chemical spills to a lightning strike, we’ve seen it all at the Arizona Burn Center – Valleywise Health.

Burn injuries happen in many ways, often when you least expect it. From flames to boiling water, chemical spills to a lightning strike, we’ve seen it all at the Arizona Burn Center – Valleywise Health. What you do to treat a burn in the first few minutes after a burn can make a big difference in your recovery and the seriousness of the injury.

While not as serious as higher-degree burns, first-degree burns can still hurt badly and leave a scar if not treated properly.

Follow these six tips from the American Burn Association to prevent the injury from getting worse. Don’t miss the tips at the end on what not to do for burns. These might surprise you.

Note: Always seek professional medical attention immediately if you have a burn emergency.

What to do:

1. Stop the Burn

This one may seem obvious, but it’s easy to panic when you’re being burned and in serious pain. The Stop, Drop and Roll trick most of us learned in elementary school comes in handy here.

  • Stop: Do not run
  • Drop: Cover eyes and nose with hands
  • Roll: Curl in a ball and roll to extinguish fire

2. Remove Burned Clothes & Accessories

Clothing can hold heat and cause a deeper injury. Remove all fabrics and jewelry as soon as possible, as swelling of burned skin also happens right away.

  • Remove all jewelry, belts, and tight clothing
  • If clothing attaches to the skin, cut or tear around it

3. Use Cool Water

Stop the burning process by cooling the burn using running cool (not cold) water for at least five minutes. Continue for up to 40 minutes if it’s a chemical burn. Do NOT use ice.

  • Pour cool water over burned areas
  • Continue at least 5 minutes
  • Continue 30-40 minutes for chemical burn

4. Cover Burns

Cover the burn with a sterile gauge bandage or clean cloth. Wrap the burned area loosely to avoid putting too much pressure on the burn tissue.

  • Use clean, dry dressings, bandage or sheet

5. Stay Warm

People with significant burns are prone to hypothermia due to loss of skin. Keeping a normal body temperature is important to encourage normal body function such as blood clotting.

6. Seek Medical Attention

To treat a serious burn, visit the Arizona Burn Center – Valleywise Health or your local Emergency Department as soon as possible.

 

What NOT to do:

  • Apply Ice – This may increase the extent of injury and cause hypothermia.
  • Use Ointments or “Home Remedies” – These may cause infection and make the injury worse.
  • Pop blisters – Leave them intact to heal naturally.
  • Wait – Get medical help immediately if the burn is larger than the size of the victim’s palm.

 

Note: Always seek professional medical attention immediately if you have a burn emergency.

 

About the Author

Kevin Foster, MD - Arizona Burn Center - Valleywise Health

Dr. Kevin Foster is a physician with District Medical Group and the Director of the Arizona Burn Center – Valleywise Health, the state’s only nationally-verified burn center treating more than five-thousand children adults each year with a survival rate of 97 percent.

Read more posts by Kevin Foster, MD  Browse all topics

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