FIRST AID BASICS
How To Treat A Burn At Home & Types Of Burns
Burns can happen very easily, especially in the home and workplace1. You might touch a hot pan in the kitchen, stay out in the sun too long or spill coffee in your lap.
Around 486,000 people go to the emergency room because of a burn each year2. Fortunately, mild burns can often be treated at home, without a trip to a doctor or a hospital.
Find out about the causes of burns, the different types, how to treat a burn at home, and when to seek additional care.
What Is a Burn?
A burn is defined as damage to skin and tissue resulting from overexposure to heat, extreme cold, sunlight, radiation or chemical/electrical contact3.
While burns can happen to anyone, children are particularly at risk4 because they are less aware of the dangers of sunburn or household items that can cause burns, such as matches, fireworks or kitchen equipment4.
The good news is that understanding how burns happen can help you and your loved ones lower the chances of experiencing one.
What can cause a burn?
There are different causes of burns:
Thermal burns – contact with fire and hot surfaces, such as a kitchen stove
Electric burns – contact with household current, through wires or a faulty appliance5
Sun burns – ultraviolet or UV light, from overexposure or inadequate sunblock
Friction burns – rubbing against a rough surface for a prolonged time
Ice burns – direct contact with ice or very cold temperatures for an extended period
Chemical burns – exposure to substances such as paint thinner or gasoline without proper protection3
The most common types of burn are thermal, particularly in the home.
Common signs of a burn
Symptoms vary depending on the cause, severity, and degree of the burn. Common signs of a burn may include:
White or peeling skin
Burn symptoms are normally worse in the first few hours or days.
What Are the Different Types of Burns?
There are three different degrees of burns:
First-degree burns (minor burns) – redness and pain on the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Considered mild when compared to other burns3
Second-degree burns – deep burn with redness, blisters and considerable to severe pain and swelling that affects the outer and lower layers of skin (epidermis and dermis)4
Third-degree burns – deep tissue destruction affecting the dermis and lower layers, resulting in a white, brown or charred appearance. These burns can be numb due to nerve damage4
Products by BAND-AID® Brand, the number-one doctor recommended first aid brand, are designed to protect minor cuts, scrapes, and burns while they heal.
For second and third-degree burns, or those on especially sensitive areas, you should seek medical care immediately.
Burn Treatment: How to Take Care Of, Heal and Get Relief from Burns
Find out how to take care of burns at home and how to treat a burn fast if you or someone you know suffers a minor burn.
First aid for burns
Hold the damaged area under cool, running water.1 You can also soak the burn in a bowl of cool (not iced) water
Keep the area under cool water for five to 30 minutes, depending on its size and the level of pain7
This will reduce any swelling. If the burn is on a finger, remove any rings quickly before swelling starts
After soaking, gently pat the damaged area with a clean, soft cloth to dry it. Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to the burn for protection against infection and to relieve pain6
When the burn has been treated, use a sterile adhesive bandage or gauze to cover it6, keep the burn treatment in place and help protect against infection
Make sure the bandage stays in place but take care not to press it tightly on to the burn
Change the bandage daily6
Relieve the pain:
If necessary, take over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen to help with the pain
Some over-the-counter medicines can also reduce swelling
Talk to a doctor if you have questions about treating pain for children under 12 years of age
How to treat a burn blister:
Blisters can develop as burns heal. Avoid the temptation to open a blister to let fluid out, as the blister helps prevent infection
If a blister breaks, hold it under cool, running water to clean it
When it’s dry, put antibiotic ointment on it and cover with a bandage to keep it safe6
Home remedies for burns
In addition to ointments, bandages and over-the-counter medicines, there are other home remedies for burns to consider. These include:
Aloe vera – the aloe plant is a natural anti-inflammatory and has anti-bacterial properties. In gel form, it can be used to treat burns7
Honey – can be used as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant. Topical use of honey has been shown to help wound healing, particularly in burns8
Petroleum jelly – a thin layer of this can help keep a burn from becoming infected6
How to Tell If a Burn Is Infected and When to Seek Additional Care
Many mild burns can be relieved with the use of over-the-counter products such as BAND-AID® Brand HYDRO SEAL® bandages. However, for more serious burns you should seek help from a healthcare professional.
If the burn becomes more painful, or there is discharge from the wound, redness, fever and/or swelling, you may have a burn infection. Contact a doctor if you think this may be the case.
You should also seek medical help if you notice any of the following:
The burn hasn’t healed in two weeks and/or remains large3
Signs of infection, such as oozing, redness or swelling
New symptoms that are unexplainable3
Should you cover a burn or let it breathe?
You should cover a burn with a bandage to keep air off it and prevent infection. But ensure it is wrapped loosely to avoid the pain of added pressure on the burned skin9.
Should you keep a burn moist or dry?
You should keep a burn moist because if the area dries out, you risk breaking the skin. Bacteria could then enter and cause infection.
How can I prevent a burn?
There are many ways to help prevent burns taking place at home:
Reduce water temperature when bathing, washing or cleaning
Keep hot foods and beverages away from table and counter edges
Unplug hot devices when not in use
Keep matches and lighters stored in a safe place
Store flammable materials safely
Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher
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Find the Best Bandage for the Job
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