Burns are absolutely unpleasant.
It doesn’t matter if you burn your hand on a pot of food, or you spill hot tea on your skin or the sun burns your skin. No one likes to get burnt but unfortunately, it is one of the common household injuries people experience.
It gets worse.
Sometimes burns are mild, while other times, they can be severe and even life-threatening.
So today, we will be talking about what to do if you ever get burnt and how to treat it, and if it is severe, signs that indicate you absolutely need to see a doctor.
Before we get down to treatment, you should know the types of burn there are, so you know what you are dealing with:
Types of burns
Burns are usually classified by how severe they are. Here are the types of burns there are:
1. First-degree burn
A first-degree burn is the least painful kind of burn.
It affects just the topmost layer of your skin. A first-degree burn is minor and often will not cause burn blisters.
However, it may swell up a bit, become red and may feel painful.
For example, if your skin comes in contact with something that is hot very briefly, that is a first-degree burn.
A first-degree burn is usually nothing to be worried about. It is possible to treat such type of burn at home and usually, your skin is healed within a week.
2. Second-degree burn
A second-degree burn is usually worse than a first-degree burn.
It goes deeper and affects the second layer of your skin, the dermis. With a second-degree burn, your skin turns red and you begin to develop burn blisters.
This type of burn can be mild or severe. If it is mild, then it can be treated at home, but if it is severe, you need medical attention immediately.
If it affects a large part of your skin, causes intense pain or becomes infected, then seeing a doctor is the next step to take.
3. Third-degree burn
A third-degree burn is worse than the first two types of burns I have described.
It affects both the topmost layer and the second layer of your skin. It damages your hair follicles, tissues and sweat glands that lie beneath your skin.
This kind of burn might not cause any pain because it causes nerve damage which won’t make you feel the pain.
A third-degree burn can be black, brown or even white. If this happens, then you need to seek medical attention immediately.
4. Fourth, fifth, sixth-degree burn
These kinds of burn are very severe and go really deep into your body. They affect bones, tendons, fat, muscle and joints.
It can even result in the loss of the affected and burnt body part.
People who experience these should be given immediate medical attention.
How do you treat burns?
If your skin gets burnt, these are the steps to take in treating it:
1. Stop the burn
This is the first step.
Stop whatever is causing the burn or distance yourself from whatever burnt you.
You might have to leave the area, stop burning flames with water or put a blanket over the flames to quench it.
If you are helping out, make sure you do not get burnt as well.
2. Remove clothing and tight items around the burnt area
Remove any piece of clothing, accessory or tight item around the burnt area of your skin. Do this very quickly before the burnt area begins to swell.
However, if anything is stuck to the burnt skin, do not try to forcefully remove it. Trying to do so can cause further damage.
Instead, see a doctor to help with that.
3. Cool the burn with cool water
Put the burnt part of your skin under cool running water until the pain reduces. You can also dip the burnt area in a bucket or bowl of cool water for about 20 minutes.
Do not use cold water or ice packs. Ice can irritate the skin and cause further damage.
You can also place a clean wet cloth over the burnt area to relieve pain and swelling. If you are doing this, you keep apply the wet cloth but at 5 -15 minutes intervals till the pain reduces.
4. Soothe skin with a lotion
Applying a lotion helps to relieve the skin and prevent drying.
But you have to be careful what kind of lotion you apply. Do not apply creams or anything greasy like butter or oils, even natural oils.
Oils and butter retain heat and can hold heat in your skin which can make your skin continue to burn and make your burn worse.
If you must apply lotion, make sure it is mild and does not contain fragrance. The fragrance will further irritate the skin and make it worse.
You can also apply natural remedies like honey or aloe vera.
Honey has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which help to soothe the skin and prevent swelling.
Aloe vera is also anti-inflammatory and prevents the growth of bacteria.
5. Leave burn blisters alone
No matter how tempting it is, do not try to break or burst open any blister that might form as a result of the burn.
Blisters, especially those filled with fluid protect your skin from getting infected.
If the blister breaks, clean the area with water and then apply an antibiotic ointment. Make sure it is an ointment prescribed by a doctor.
6. Bandage the burnt area
Cover the burnt area with a sterile gauze bandage. This protects the affected area and reduces the pain.
Do not make the bandage tight to avoid putting pressure on the burnt skin.
7. Get a pain reliever
If the burn is not intense, visit the pharmacy and get a pharmacist to prescribe a pain reliever for you.
You can use medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as long as they are prescribed, and you are not self-medicating.
These will help to relieve the pain.
8. Avoid sunlight
Do not expose the burnt area of your skin to sunlight. Your skin might be sensitive to the sun which can worsen the burn.
If you must go out in the sun, keep the burnt area covered with clothing.
These remedies work when the burn is not so severe, for first degree and second degree but for third-degree burns upward, you need to see a doctor immediately.
How to remove burn scars
So what if after treating your burns, you have scars left behind, what do you do?
As soon as the blisters from a first or second-degree burn are healed, you can start applying a moisturizer, or an emollient (thicker than a moisturizer).
This should help soothe itching and also accelerate the healing and recovery process. Moisturizing early will help your scar recede and prevent it from becoming large and ugly.
2. Home remedies
a. Aloe vera comes atop the list here. Apart from soothing a burned skin, aloe vera can also help eradicate burn marks or scars.
Simply rub fresh aloe daily on the burnt parts and the marks will disappear with time.
b. Other home remedies to lighten burn marks are potato, tomato, lemon juice, chamomile tea, honey, coconut oil, etc.
These are majorly bleaching agents and all you have to do is simply rub whichever you prefer (yes, you choose one — not all at the same time) over the scars two to three times daily.
The changes will become noticeable over time.
When does it become necessary to see a doctor?
You know you need to see a doctor when:
- The burn affects your hands, buttocks, groin or your face.
- The affected area begins to smell
- The burn becomes painful
- You feel no pain even though your skin is severely burnt (means your nerves are damaged)
- You have a high temperature
- You think it’s a third-degree burn or worse
- You haven’t had a tetanus shot in five years
- The burn makes your skin white
- You go into shock (experiencing rapid or shallow breathing, cold, dizziness, weakness, sweating, etc.)
Burns vary. Sometimes, they can be barely noticeable and other times, severe.
If ever you get a burn, you need to know what kind of burn it is and how to treat it. These tips I have given you in this article should help with that.
But if you are unsure what to do about your burn, go see the doctor immediately.
Now over to you…
Have you ever gotten your skin burnt – whether mild or severe? If yes, how did you go about it? Share your experience in the comments.
Also, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. I would be glad to reply.