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How to Care for a Burn Injury


Proper care for a burn injury is essential for a full recovery. However, different kinds of burn injuries should be cared for in different ways. For example, the severity of the burn (whether it is a first, second or third-degree burn) will dictate the type of medical treatment that is required. First and second-degree burns can often be treated as minor burns. However, if it is a large second-degree or a third-degree burn, more involved hospital care may be required.

If the burn is minor, you can likely treat it yourself. Run cool water over the burn for 10 to 15 minutes. Put a cool, clean and dampened towel over the burned area. Make sure to take off any rings or other tight things that you might be wearing near the wound. If small blisters develop, do not break them. If the blisters do break, you can clean them with soap and water, and then put antibiotic cream and a nonstick bandage over the wound. Moisturizer and/or aloe gel could provide some relief. Pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may also be helpful. A tetanus shot could also be appropriate in certain situations. In case of large blisters or signs of infection like pain, swelling, redness or oozing, be sure to seek medical attention.

For major burns, it is important to call 911. While waiting for emergency medical personnel, remove the injured person safely away from the burning item. Leave any burned clothing on the person if has adhered to his or her skin. Perform CPR if the person is not breathing. Remove any belts, jewelry, necklaces, collars or other tight items from the person because burns can swell rapidly. Unlike minor burns, if the burn is large and severe, do not put it underwater. Keep burned areas of the body elevated above heart level.

Finally, if the burn is serious, victims may want to consider evaluating whether or not another party’s negligence caused the burn. If this has occurred, the injured person may be able to seek financial compensation in court via a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: WebMD, “Burns: first aid,” accessed Nov. 12, 2015