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Treating Burns

Burns are classified according to the extent of their damage.

There are three levels of classification, and based on the damage present, you can assess how to aid a burn victim.

First degree burns are the least severe. These present as a reddening of the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and are painful.

Second degree burns are more severe, as they damage the epidermis and dermis (lower layer of skin).  These result in reddening and pain, but also include swelling and blistering of the skin.

Third degree burns are the most severe. Third-degree burns, also called full-thickness burns, burn through the dermis and injure the tissue underneath. This results in serious damage to that tissue and the nerves in that area. Damage to the nerves can result in this burn being numb. These burns will present with white or blackened tissue that is charred.


Treating Different Burns

Before anything else, remove the individual from the source, be it an open flame, steam, or other material. After removing the individual from the hazardous area, put out the fire that caused the burn. Remove any constrictive clothing. If clothing is on fire, help them to drop and roll to smother the flames. Cut away any clothing that is causing further harm. Because burns swell quickly, remove any belts, jewelry, or any accessories that can cause further injury.

First degree burns are usually cared for with first aid intervention. First, the burn should be cooled by holding the burn under cool running water until the pain subsides. If you do not have running water readily available, use a cold compress. Cover the burn in a sterile, non-adhesive cloth or bandage. Using antibiotic creams to reduce the chances of infection, and skin care ointments, such as Aloe Vera, to aid in healing and reduce pain are practical first aid treatments. Do not use fragranced creams, lotions, or other such skin products. These can cause further irritation. Using pain-killing medication such as Acetaminophen or ibuprofen also helps alleviate symptoms and reduce swelling.

Second degree burns can be treated through similar first aid precautions. Seek medical care for second-degree burns. A physician can prescribe an antibiotic cream or ointment that can help in the healing process. With a second-degree burn, there is a chance that the individual may go into shock. Follow the protocol for preventing shock in the other lesson.

For third degree burns, you need to get immediate medical help. Call 911. Cover the burn area with a sterile bandage that will not stick to the burn. If the burn is large, cover with a sheet. If the hands or feet or burned, you must separate the fingers and toes using dry, sterile dressings. Do not apply ointment or run water over the burn. This can cause infection. As with a second-degree burn, you must prevent shock. For third degree burns, medical intervention is necessary. A hospital can provide fluids, and skin grafts may be used to treat the burnt area.

Burn pain will need to be managed over the following days and weeks, depending on the severity of the burn. Burn pain can be long lasting, and the treatment process can result in additional pain. Consult a medical professional for dealing with burn pain. In some cases, a tetanus shot may be administered to prevent any major infection.

(Sources: https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/thermal-heat-or-fire-burns-treatment#2; https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/pain-caused-by-burns; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/burns/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20370545)