How to Treat a Burn

Summer is just around the corner. Which means a good majority of you and your loved ones will be spending time around BBQs and/or campfires. Both of which create great memories and fun activities, but can also be very dangerous and cause potential burn injuries if people don’t take the proper precautions when they are around these things. If you should ever find yourself in a situation where you or someone you know receives a burn injury, here are the proper steps you should follow in treating it.

How to Treat a Burn

For all Burns-

Stop burning immediately

If you or someone else is on fire, put out the fire immediately by smothering the flames or doing the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique.  If you are getting burned from a hot liquid, steam, or anything else, turn it off or remove yourself from it as quickly as you can.  Then, remove any hot or burned clothing.   If the clothing sticks to your skin, cut or tear around it.

For First Degree Burns-

  1. Cool the burn– Hold any burned skin under cool (not cold) water until the pain subsides.
  2. Protect the burn– Cover your burn with sterile, non-adhesive bandages or clean cloths; making sure to not apply butter or ointments to the burn as they can cause infections.
  3. Treat your pain– If you are experiencing any pain, take an over-the-counter medication like Tylenol or Advil to help subside any discomfort you are experiencing.
  4. Seek medical help if
    1. You see any sign of infection (i.e. increased pain, redness, swelling, fever, etc.).
    2. The burn blister is larger than 2 inches and is oozing.
    3. Any redness or pain lasts more than a few hours.
    4. Your pain worsens.

For Second Degree Burns-

  1. Cool the burn- Immerse in cool water for 10-15 min or apply a cool compress if water isn’t available.  Don’t apply ice as that can lower the body temperature and cause further pain/damage, and don’t break the blister or apply ointments.
  2. Protect the burn– Cover loosely with a sterile, non-stick bandage and secure in place with gauze or tape.
  3. Prevent shock- A person can quickly go in to shock with a second degree burn.  To avoid this you will need to lay the person flat on their back, elevate their feet 12 inches above their head, and cover with a coat or blanket.
  4. See a doctor- If you or someone you know receives a second degree burn, it’s very important to see a doctor.  They will be able to test the severity of the burn, prescribe antibiotics and give a tetanus shot if needed.

For Third Degree Burns-

  1. Call 911- This type of burn is one that you can not treat on your own, and will require the help of professionals to be treated properly.
  2. Protect burn area- Cover the burn loosely with sterile, nonstick bandage or, for large areas, a sheet or other material that that won’t leave lint in wound.  Do not put in cool water or apply butter or any ointments.
  3. Prevent shock- A person can quickly go in to shock with a third degree burn.  To avoid this you will need to lay the person flat on their back, elevate their feet 12 inches above their head, cover with a coat or blanket, and elevate the burn above heart level if possible.  If the person has a facial burn, have them sit up.  And make sure to check the pulse and breathing to monitor for shock until emergency help arrives.