A burn is basically any damage to the skin or bodily tissue due to exposure to radiation, heat, ultraviolet light, steam, hot liquid, fire, chemicals, flammable gases or liquids and electricity. Minor cases of burns usually heal on their own without requiring any treatment while severe cases need hospitalization in order to prevent complications from developing such as infection, shock or even death.
Types of burns
Burns are categorized based on degree – first, second and third. The first degree burns are the most common and only affect the outermost layer of the skin. Second degree burns can damage the first two layers of the skin. Lastly, third degree burns causes extensive damage up to the deepest layer of skin and tissues.
Symptoms of burns
Any burn is visible on any part of the body and has the following symptoms:
- Pain that increase with every degree
- Red-colored and swollen skin
- Affected area appears moist
- Dry, white, tanned or leathery skin
- Charred or blackened skin
Treatment for burns
The treatment for burns depends on the severity of the burn. For first and second degree burns, it can be treated initially by placing the affected area under cool running water for 10-15 minutes. If running water is not available, you can make use of a cool compress and apply over the burn. Always bear in mind not to apply ice directly to a burn since it will only cause more damage to the skin.
The affected area must be dried gently and apply a burn ointment to promote healing as well as prevent scarring. Cover the area using a bandage or gauze pad. Using cotton balls is not a good option since the cotton fibers will stick on the burned skin. In case the burn affects a large joint in the body, such as the elbow or knee as well as large areas in the feet, hands, face, buttocks or groin, it is important to seek emergency care.
The application of oil, butter or egg whites is not advisable since these products will cause more damage to the skin and increase the risk for infection. In case blisters form, avoid popping them open since this will also increase the risk for infection.
As for a third degree burn that involves the interior tissues and bones, immediately call for emergency assistance. Do not attempt to remove any clothing, but make sure that the clothes are no longer in contact with the source of the burn. All you have to do is to cover the affected area using a moist cool cloth and elevate the burned area higher than the level of the heart.
Possible complications from burns
Severe burns can diminish the ability of an individual to move normally as well as leaving permanent scars. On the other hand, complications can develop even on minor burns. Always remember that infection is always a risk when it comes to burns. Bacteria can enter through the broken skin. If infection is not treated, it can lead to the infection of the bloodstream which is known as sepsis.