One of the most common injuries is getting a burn. It is often a result of carelessness or lack of knowledge in handling objects or appliances that is hot or flammable. People who experience burns generally feel mild to extreme pain depending on the severity of the wound. This is because burns occur in the skin that contains lots of nerve endings. Whatever the cause, burns require immediate treatment. Thus, it is a must to learn the basics of handling burns.
- Determine the degree of the burn. This way you will know the appropriate procedure, as each degree requires different treatment. There are three degrees of burn. A first-degree burn is characterized by reddening or minor swelling of the outer layer of the skin and is the mildest form of burn. The second-degree burn goes until the second layer of the skin, which is the dermis that results to blisters. Finally, a third-degree burn is the most fatal wherein both the outer layer and inner layer of the skin are damaged. Patients or victims with third-degree burn may experience shock and severe pain.
- Place affected area in cool running water. When you recognize the degree of burn, immediately place the affected area in cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes until the pain lessens. This applies to first and second degree-burns where there is no open wound. Running water helps ease the pain and cleanses the wound from any dirt that may affect the burn. If running water is not possible, use a clean cloth, soaked in cool water and gently tap it on the injured area. Immersing the burn in cool water helps reduce swelling. Remember not to directly apply burns with ice cubes or any cold objects as those may strain the nerves of the skin slowing the healing process.
- Dry the affected area. Get a separate clean cloth or tissue (in case no cloth is around) to dry the area of the burn. Do this gently. Do not rub.
- Apply burn ointments or burn gels to mild burns. These products are made with special ingredients to reduce the pain and swelling. Just be sure that these are bought in trusted drugstores. Do not use the ointment if the patient has skin allergies. Nonetheless, make sure to have one of them in your emergency kit.
- Cover the affected area. Use a sterilized gauzed or clean cloth to cover the burn area during the process of healing. However do not cover the burn tightly because this obstructs the circulation of air that helps a burn to heal fast. Do away with cottony materials to avoid them from sticking in the wound. Apply cover as well in severe burns until the medics arrive or when you reach the hospital.
- Calm down. Most of the cases of third-degree burns cause the person to suffer from extreme pain which leads them into shock, difficulty in breathing, and sometimes suffocation. Be calm and focus on the need of the victim. Make sure to bring the person in a safe place especially in an open air. Call for help immediately. While waiting for the rescue you can apply the basic aid. Do not remove the burn clothes so as not to cause more injury to the burn. If there is an extreme swelling, cover the area with a moist clean cloth.