Tag Archives: first degree burn

How To Treat Minor Burns (And Recognize Major Ones)

Minor burns are common household hazards which are often fine to treat with your first aid kit at home, but sometimes the burn may be worse than you thought – would you be able to tell the difference between a burn that is home-treatable and one that may require medical assistance? Let’s take a look.

Is It a Minor or Major Burn?

It is advised that all burns on children be checked out by a doctor, but for adults there is a little more liberty. It is important to determine the severity of the burn before taking action. You can usually do so by looking at the burn, is it red, small in diameter, with only slight swelling and pain? Chances are it is a minor burn. In which case, home first aid treatment will often be sufficient unless a first-degree burn covers a large sensitive area such as the groin, face, feet, hands or a knee or major joint. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the tell-tale signs of a more serious burn:

  • Red or white splotchy skin (if the burn is white, that means it is deeper and more serious)
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Covers a large area (more than a couple inches for second degree burns)
  • Blisters
  • Charred skin
  • Difficulty breathing (a person may be passed out in extreme cases)
  • High fever
  • Exposed tissue, fat or bone (third degree burns go very deep into the tissues)

In the case of what appears to be a more serious second-degree burn or a third-degree burn, call for emergency treatment asap. If you aren’t sure, it is best to go to the doctor and get it checked out.

Home Treatment of Minor Burns

It is okay to treat very minor burns at home by abiding the following steps (however if it doesn’t heal well or you think it could be infected, see a doctor):

  • Immediately hold the burn under cool water for up to 20 minutes or until it starts feeling better (research says the longer you leave it under the cool water, the better the potential outcome). Make sure the water isn’t cold, and refrain from using ice packs directly on burned skin.
  • Remove any tight clothing or jewelry from the site of the burn in case it starts to swell.
  • Clean the area with mild soap and luke warm water, then apply antiseptic ointment) or aloe vera gel if it looks and feels good).
  • See your doctor for follow up care if large blisters develop or if it isn’t healing well or shows signs of infection such as pus.
  • Taking OTC medications such as Tylenol may help ease the discomfort, Benadryl can help stop any itching.

What To Do In Case of a Major Burn

It is important to act fast when it comes to third-degree (or serious second-degree) burns. If someone has been severely burned, contact emergency treatment immediately. In the mean time, there are a few precautions to take:

  • Check the person’s breathing, perform CPR if there doesn’t seem to be breathing or movement.
  • Try to elevate the burned area above the person’s heart.
  • Do not run water over the person’s burns, it could lead to hypothermia in a severely burned person.
  • You can try using a cool, moist clean towel to lay on the burn, but don’t rub the area.
  • Don’t remove clothing that is stuck to the burn areas, only a professional should do that.
  • Try to tell the ambulance driver as many details as you can about how the person got burned and what you did to assist them.

That concludes our look at the difference between minor and serious burns, and how to treat them. Keep an eye out for burn prevention tips soon! Thanks for visiting DocChat!