Treatment decisions are based on the need to relieve pain, reduce swelling, prevent infection, and promote healing.
Many experts believe that a physician should be consulted for any burn except first-degree burns affecting less than 1% of the body's surface. Any second-degree burns covering more than 10% to 15% of the body surface or suspected third-degree burns should be assessed by a physician.
Also, if the eyes, ears, face, or feet are involved, it is important to seek medical attention. However, if these parts haven't been affected, or if there's no blistering, medical attention may not be necessary.
For first-degree (minor) burns, cool moist compresses should be applied immediately. The cool compresses may reduce the swelling and pain. Don't exert pressure on the burned skin. Although no dressing is required, a light dressing may aid the discomfort. A water-based skin moisturizer may be applied if no blisters form, to help the skin heal.
For second-degree burns, the skin should be placed in cool water. If the skin is broken, it should be gently washed by rinsing well with a saline solution. Everyone who develops blisters on their burns should see a doctor. There are differing ideas on how to treat blisters. Some physicians believe that blisters are a protective barrier for the burn. Others feel that the trapped fluid in the blister can become infected. It's important to see a physician so that blister care can be provided. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken to help relieve any pain or swelling.
In the case of severe, third-degree burns, emergency medical services should be called immediately. The goal is to prevent infection (one of the most significant problems in burn victims), remove dead tissue, and cover the wound with skin as soon as possible. Cold water should not be applied and clothing that's stuck to the burn shouldn't be removed. Cover the burn loosely with a clean, dry dressing such as a handkerchief, pillowcase, or a sheet. It's important to keep warm after the burn.
People with electrical burns should always see a doctor. Although they may appear superficial, there may be damage to deeper tissues that is not immediately evident. Also, these people may be at risk for cardiac arrhythmias for 72 hours after being burned electrically.
Be cautious of circumferential burns (that is, burns that encircle a limb and may cause circulation problems with scarring), as these should be assessed by your physician.
In all cases, do not - as folklore suggests - apply butter or margarine. These won't relieve pain and may increase the burning sensation. If blisters form and break, it may also lead to infection.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Burns