Burn Treatment

With Memorial Day come and gone, summer is truly upon us.  This means the time for grilling, barbeques and campfires is here.  In case any of these activities go wrong, we’re going to go over the different types of burns, how to treat yourself, and how to determine if you should seek treatment from a UNI professional.

First-degree burns

A first-degree burn damages only the top layer of skin.  These are the burns that can often be treated without consulting further medical attention.  A first-degree burn will be red, painful to touch, and will begin to swell. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers the following treatment guidelines:

  • Apply cool, wet compresses, or immerse in cool, fresh water. Continue until pain subsides
  • Cover the burn with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
  • Do not apply ointments or butter to burn; these may cause infection.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications may be used to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • First-degree burns usually heal without further treatment. However, if a first-degree burn covers a large area of the body, or the victim is an infant or elderly, seek emergency medical attention.

Second-degree burns

Second-degree burns will be redder in color, painful without touching, and may leak fluids.  These burns will swell even more, and The Mayo Clinic reminds us to remove any jewelry or other tight-fitting items quickly, before serious swelling occurs.  For treatment, CDC says:

  • Immerse in fresh, cool water, or apply cool compresses. Continue for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Dry with clean cloth and cover with sterile gauze.
    • Do not break blisters.
    • Do not apply ointments or butter to burns; these may cause infection
    • Elevate burned arms or legs.
  • Take steps to prevent shock: lay the victim flat, elevate the feet about 12 inches, and cover the victim with a coat or blanket. Do not place the victim in the shock position if a head, neck, back, or leg injury is suspected, or if it makes the victim uncomfortable.
  • Further medical treatment is required. Do not attempt to treat serious burns unless you are a trained health professional.

Third-degree burns

Third-degree burns destroy the entire thickness of skin and may remove layers of skin.  Areas covered by third-degree burns may not experience pain, and will be dry and leathery, or even charred.  Seek immediate medical attention if you have a third-degree burn—do not attempt to treat it yourself.

If you have a burn injury please do not hesitate to visit us at any of our six locations—we will have you treated and on your way back to your daily routine in no time!

This information is not a substitute for medical advice nor is it intended as such. If you have questions about your health please contact your primary care physician, our office, or 911 in case of an emergency.