Burns are a common form of injury that can cause inflammation, blistering or in some severe cases, permanent skin damage. Minor burns and scalding frequently occur from accidental contact with dry heat such as irons or from hot liquids, whilst more severe burns can be caused by chemicals, electrical apparatus and excessive sun exposure. The majority of the time, burns cause temporary, acute pain and can be treated at home, whereas more severe skin damage may require prompt medical attention.
In the event of a burn, there are a few simple steps you can follow to ease the pain, prevent the burn from deteriorating and aid the recovery process.
For general burns, the first thing you should do is to remove any clothing that surrounds the affected area and run it under cool water. For chemical burns, you should carefully dispose of any chemical residue from the skin whilst wearing protective gloves before running the area under water. The burn should be soaked in cool water or wrapped in a damp cloth for at least 10 minutes – if a burning sensation continues after this time, you should continue to run the skin under water until the pain subsides. The burn should then be covered with clean cloth, cling film or a sterile bandage (ideally a pad and gauze bandage), such as those available from Steroplast Healthcare.
Painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can help ease any pain and for sunburn, moisturizing solutions can be applied to reduce sore and swollen skin. You can also apply cool compresses and soaking in a cool bath a couple of times a day can also help to soothe any pain.
When To See a Doctor
Whilst minor burns can usually be treated at home without medical assistance, if you are suffering from excessive pain or notice signs of infection, you should make an appointment with your GP. A doctor can assess the size, depth and severity of the burn to determine the appropriate level of care needed.
Burns that require medical attention generally include deep, large burns, electrical or chemical burns, burns to the face or other vulnerable areas and seriously charred skin. In some severe cases, hospital treatment may be required for skin graft surgery.
Although anyone can suffer from burns, children are more susceptible as they have thinner skin than adults, and if you feel as though your child’s burn needs to be assessed before using a home dressing, you may want to seek medical advice.
What To Avoid
You should always avoid dressing burns with bandages that are adhesive or cotton, as this could cause further irritation to the affected area. Make sure to steer clear of using ice to treat a burnt area, as this can prevent blood flow from reaching the damaged area – the water used should always be cool or tepid. Any tight bandages that do not allow the wounded area to breath need to be avoided, as well as any greasy substances including creams, oils, sprays or petroleum jelly.
You should always refrain from breaking blisters or interfering with the skin, as this can cause an infection to develop. Likewise, whilst you should remove any clothing that may cause further damage; you should always avoid removing clothes that are stuck to the skin.