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First Aid 2023

What to do in case of a burn

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What to do in case of a burn
What to do in case of a burn

In most burns, the most important step is to quickly cool the skin so that the deeper layers do not continue to burn and cause injury. In addition, ointments can be used, according to medical advice, to relieve pain and aid the healing process.

However, depending on the degree of the burn, the care may be different, especially in the 3rd degree, which should be evaluated as soon as possible by a doctor, in the hospital, to avoid serious complications such as destruction of nerves or muscles.

In all cases of burn, it is not recommended to apply coffee powder or toothpaste, for example, on the burn, as it can cause even more irritation, increase the risk of infection and make the healing process difficult.

What to do for a 1st degree burn


First degree burn only affects the surface layer of the skin causing signs such as pain and redness in the region. In these cases it is recommended:

  1. Place the burned area under cold water for at least 15 minutes;
  2. Keep a clean cloth moistened with cold water in the region during the first 24 hours, changing it whenever the water heats up;
  3. Do not apply any product,such as oil or butter, to the burn;
  4. Apply a moisturizing or healing ointment for burns, such as Nebacetin or Ointment. See a more complete list of ointments;

This type of burn is more common when you are in the sun for a long time or when you touch a very hot object. The pain usually disappears after 2 or 3 days, but the burn can take up to 2 weeks to heal, even with the use of ointments. Generally, a 1st degree burn does not leave any kind of scar on the skin and rarely presents complications.

What to do for a 2nd degree burn


2nd degree burn affects the intermediate layers of the skin and, therefore, in addition to redness and pain, other symptoms such as blisters or swelling of the site may appear. In this type of burn it is recommended:

  1. Place the affected area under cold running water for at least 15 minutes;
  2. Wash the burn carefully with cold water and neutral pH soap, avoiding rubbing too hard;
  3. Cover the area with wet gauze or plenty of Vaseline, and secure with a bandage, during the first 48 hours, changing whenever necessary;
  4. Do not pierce the bubbles and do not apply any product to the site, to avoid the risk of infection;
  5. Seek medical help if blister is very large.

This burn is more common when the heat is in contact with the skin for a longer time, as when hot water is poured over clothing or if you hold something hot for a long time, for example.

In most cases, the pain will improve after 3 days, but the burn may take up to 3 weeks to disappear. Although 2nd degree burns rarely leave scars, the skin may be lighter there.

What to do for a 3rd degree burn


3rd degree burn is a serious and life-threatening situation as the deeper layers of the skin are being affected, including the nerves, blood vessels and muscle. Therefore, in this case it is recommended:

  1. Immediately call an ambulance by calling 911 or take the person quickly to the hospital;
  2. Cool the burned area with saline solution, or failing that, tap water for about 10 minutes;
  3. Carefully place sterile gauze moistened in saline solution or a clean cloth over the affected region, until medical help arrives. If the burned area is very large, you can roll up a clean sheet moistened with saline and not shed;
  4. Do not place any type of product in the affected region.

In some cases, a 3rd degree burn can be so severe that it causes multiple organ failure. In these cases, if the victim faints and stops breathing, cardiac massage should be started.

Since all layers of skin are affected, nerves, glands, muscles and even internal organs can be seriously injured. In this type of burn you may not feel pain due to the destruction of the nerves, but immediate medical help is needed to avoid serious complications such as infections.

When to go to the hospital

Most burns can be treated at home, however, it is advisable to go to the hospital when the burn is larger than the palm of your hand, many blisters appear or it is a third degree burn, which affects the upper layers skin deep. In addition, if the burn also occurs in sensitive areas such as hands, feet, genitals or face, you should also go to the hospital.


Top questions

The following are the main questions about what to do in case of a burn:

1. Does using toothpaste or coffee powder improve the burn?

Toothpaste, coffee grounds, butter, egg whites, chopped onions or vinegar have no effect on the scar, and may even delay the healing process and increase the chances of bacterial infection. Therefore, the best way to treat a burn is to place the burned area under cold water until the skin cools.

Afterwards, ointments suitable for burns with soothing, healing and antibacterial properties can be applied. See some examples of burn ointment.

2. Can I pop the bubble?

The blister is the body's way of protecting the affected region against infections, so it shouldn't be popped. If it does burst, wash the area well with water and mild soap.

Also, if the skin is glued or glued after the ball popped, do not move. The skin can only be removed in the hospital by a trained professional, as it can cause other skin damage.

3. Can I remove the tissue that is glued to the burn?

If clothing or any object is stuck to the burn, it is not recommended to remove it, as this can cause a bigger injury, increase the risk of infection and delay healing. In such cases, it is important to go to the nearest hospital or emergency room so that the tissue or object can be safely removed.

4. Does icing the scar relieve the symptoms?

Despite being cold, ice should not be used, as excessive cold can damage the skin and cause new burns and injuries. In addition to ice, it is important to avoid passing cotton over the burned area, as it can stick to the skin and interfere with the healing process.

5. What can relieve burn pain?

Burn pain can be relieved just with cold water on the burned area. However, there are homemade ointments that can relieve burn symptoms and aid healing. Find out which homemade ointment is used for burns.

6. Aloe vera gel helps in the healing process of the burn?

Aloe vera is a medicinal plant that has anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, healing and moisturizing properties, so it can be used to help the scar healing process, as long as there is no wound at the site.

7. Cold milk compress help in healing?

The cold milk compress can be used to treat sunburn, as it reduces the burning and swelling of the skin in addition to hydrating it. See other burn remedies.

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