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Burn, scorch, singe, sear, char, parch; all these verbs mean to injure or alter by means of intense heat or flames. Burn, the most general, applies to the effects of exposure to a source of heat or to something that can produce a similar effect.
The treatment of burns depends on the depth, and location of the burn. Burn depth is generally categorizedas first, second or third degree. A first degree burn is superficial and has similar characteristics to a typical sun burn. The skinis red in color and sensation is intact. In fact, it is usually somewhat painful. Second degree burns look similar to the first degree burns; however, the damage is now severe enough to cause blistering of the skin and the pain is usually somewhat more intense. In third degree burns the damage has progressed to the point of skin death. The skin is white and without sensation.
Regardless of the type of burn, the result is fluid accumulation and inflammation in and around the wound. Moreover, it should be noted that the skin is the body's first defense againstinfection by microorganisms. Damage to the skin can predispose the burn victim to both infection at the site of the wound as well as internally.
Last Updated - 29th October 2005
A first-degree burn involves only the outer layer of skin. The skin is dry, painful and sensitive to touch.
A second-degree burn involves several layers of skin. The skin becomes swollen, puffy, weepy or blistered.
A third-degree burn involves all layers of skin and may include any underlying tissue or organs. The skin is dry, pale white or charred black, swollen and sometimes breaks open. Nerves are destroyed or damaged, so there may be little pain except on the edges where they may be second-degree burns.
- Install smoke detectors on each story of your home.
- Check and replace the batteries regularly.
- Keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen. Have it inspected yearly.
- Set your water heater at 120 degrees or lower to avoid burns.
- Do not smoke in bed.
- Use caution when handling hot foods.
- Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
- Smother burning food or grease with a pot or pot lid.
- Supervise children closely when they are cooking.THIRD-DEGREE BURNS (Call a health professional and apply home treatment)
- Make sure the source of the burn has been extinguished.
- Have the person lie down to prevent shock.
- Cover the burned area with a clean cloth or sheet (preferably white).
- Do not apply any salve or medication to the burn.FIRST- and SECOND DEGREE BURNS
- Run cold tap water over the burn for 10 to 15 minutes. Cold water is the best immediate treatment for minor burns. The cold lowers skin temperature and lessens the severity of the burn
- Do not use ice because it may further damage the injured skin.
- Remove rings, bracelets, watches or shoes from the burned limb. Swelling may make these items difficult to remove later.
- Leave the burn alone for 24 hours. Do not cover the burn unless clothing rubs on it. If clothing rubs the burned area, cover the burn with a gauze pad taped well away from the burn.
- Do not put salve, butter, grease, oil or ointment on a burn as they increase the risk of infection.
- After two to three days of healing, apply the juice from an aloe leaf to soothe minor burns.
- Do not break blisters.
- If blisters break, clean the area by running tap water over it and applying a mild soap. Apply an anibiotic ointment and cover the burn with a sterile dressing. Repeat daily.
- Take aspirin or ibuprofen to help relieve pain but do not give aspirin to a child.WHEN TO CALL A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
- For all third-degree burns.
- If you are in doubt about the extent of a burn.
- If the burn involves the face, hands, feet, genitals or a joint and is more than one inch in diameter.
- If the burn encircles an arm or leg or if it covers more than 1/4 of the body part involved.
- If the pain lasts longer than 48 hours.
- If a child younger than five, an older adult or a person with a weakened immune system or a chronic health probelm is burned.
- If signs of infection develop.SIGNS of INFECTION
- Increased pain, swelling, redness or tenderness.
- Heat or red streaks extending from the area.
- Discharge of pus.
- Fever of 100 degrees or higher with no other cause.
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