How to treat burns: first aid
For many minor second-degree burns (a small skin surface), home remedies are sufficient for healing and to avoid other problems.
In case of extensive and severe burns, call for help immediately (192) or go to the emergency room to prevent possible complications (infection and hypovolemic shock).
Rinse and freshen the burn
Rinse the burned skin with cold water until the pain passes.
Rinse usually stops the pain in 15-30 minutes.
The cold water reduces the temperature of the skin and prevents the worsening of the burn.
Clean the burn
Wash your hands before cleaning a burn. Do not touch the burned area with your hands or anything dirty because open blisters can easily become infected.
Do not burst bubbles.
Clean the burned area with water.
Burnt skin could come out with the wash.
Massage the dry area with a clean cloth or gauze.
In a small burn you can put an ointment that contains antibiotics . Ointments such as bacitracin (Nebacetin ointment) or polymyxin may be useful.
Do not put the spray, oil or butter on burns, because it captures heat inside the burn.
Healing on burn
If burned skin or blisters are not open, a bandage may not be necessary.
If the burned area is susceptible to dirt or can be irritated by clothing, apply a bandage.
If burned skin or blisters have burst, a bandage is needed.
To prevent infection, apply a clean dressing each time the dressing gets wet or dirty (change the dressing).
If a bandage gets in contact with the burn, immerse it in hot water to remove it more easily.
If available, use an anti-adherent dressing, gauze with petrolatum (eg Adaptic) does not attack the burned skin.
It is advisable to go to the doctor to control the blisters.
How to make the dressing?
There are many dressing products available.
- Wrap the bandage tightly to avoid pressure on burned skin.
- Do not tie the bandage around your hand, arm or leg. This can cause swelling.
- There are many medicines for burns without a prescription.
- Follow the instructions included in the package.
If the burn is on one leg or arm, keep the member raised, as much as possible in the first 24-48 hours to decrease swelling.
Move your burned leg or arm normally because if you stand still for too long, this can cause stiffness .
What to do for minor burns?
The burned patient can:
1. Place arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet or toes in a bowl of cool, non-cool water.
2. Apply cold compresses to face or body burns.
3. Do not use ice because it can cause tissue damage.
4. Remove any jewelry, rings or clothing that can be very tight if the skin swells.
Treatments for burns
Depending on the severity of the burns, the doctor may prescribe:
1. Intravenous fluids. Doctors inject fluids through a vein (intravenous) to prevent dehydration and organ failure.
2. Analgesics. Burns can be very painful. In many cases, morphine is needed, especially when changing the dressing.
3. Anxiolytic medications may be helpful.
4. Burn cream . Your doctor may prescribe various creams to:
- Reduce pain,
- Prevent infection,
- Accelerate healing.
5. Antibiotics . If you develop an infection, your doctor may prescribe intravenous or topically applied antibiotics (eg Gentamicin ointment ) .
6. Anti-tetanus. The doctor may recommend an anti-tetanus in case of burn injury.
Surgeries and medical procedures for burns
In some severe cases, one or more of the following may be required:
1. Assisted breathing . In case of burns to the face or neck, the throat may swell.
In this case, the doctor may insert a tube into the trachea to allow oxygen to reach the lungs.
2. Type of power supply . According to conventional medicine, the body needs a lot of energy to heal itself from burns.
To get proper nutrition, you can insert a tube through the nose into the stomach. However, according to natural medicine it is best to fast for a few days because the body has to focus the energies on healing and not on digestion.
3. Decompression. If necrosis caused by burns (eschar) completely surrounds a limb, it can reduce and block blood flow.
A scar that completely surrounds the chest can cause breathing difficulties. If you remove the eschar at several points, you can relieve the pressure.
4. Skin grafts. Some parts of healthy body skin are needed to replace the cured tissue caused by burns. The skin of a donor (corpses or pigs) can be used as a temporary solution.
5. Reconstruction . Surgeons can improve the appearance of scars from burns and increase the flexibility of joints affected by scars.
Physiotherapy for burns
If the burned area is large, especially if any joint is covered, physical therapy may be required with exercises to stretch the skin and to keep the joints flexible.
Other types of exercises can improve coordination and muscle strength.
In the case of young children or burned babies , when the inflammation passes, parents should massage the affected area to have a good recovery.
For maximum results, daily massages over several months may be necessary.
Although the skin is impaired, the child can fully recover movement:
- No future consequences.
Natural and home remedies to treat minor burns
In the days that follow, some natural remedies may be useful for treating burn, such as:
1. Honey is a natural remedy that can be used in burns.
Covering the burns with this food has shown to reduce scar formation.
Unrefined honey has antiseptic and healing properties.
2. An effective and easily available granule remedy for healing is diluted vinegar .
Wet the burned area with a cloth soaked in diluted vinegar.
Reapply the compress with vinegar whenever necessary.
3. Among the home methods, aloe vera gel is an excellent choice for the treatment of burns. Apply the aloe vera gel directly on the burns. This substance has a regenerating effect and serves to cool the burned skin.
Since the active ingredient degrades rapidly, the juice inside the leaf is very useful.
Fresh aloe vera gel relieves pain in minor burns.
4. Arnica may be applied to superficial burns because it has an anti-inflammatoryeffect .
Zinc oxide for the treatment of burns
Topical zinc oxide is used in the treatment of skin irritations, such as:
- Diaper rash,
- Skin cracked,
- Small burns like those caused by oven or stove.
Do not use zinc oxide in the following cases:
burns People with severe burns or deep wounds should not use zinc oxide . For severe burns, immediate medical intervention is required.
Individuals who have allergic reactions to zinc oxide should seek immediate medical intervention.
The reactions can be:
- A rash of skin,
- Problems breathing,
- Swelling of the face.
Warnings and precautions
People with allergies to lanolin, zinc or cod liver oil should not use topical zinc oxide.
This medicine should not be used to treat bacterial or fungal infection.
How long does a burn last?
The healing time and skin scars depend on the degree and extent of the burn.
First degree burn
- The healing time can be from three to 10 days for a first degree burn.
- The duration will depend on the affected area.
- The skin may peel when it heals.
Second degree burn (lower)
- The healing time is approximately 2-3 weeks.
- In general, no scars remain.
Second degree burn (extended)
- The cure time varies from 3 to 8 weeks.
- On the skin remain obvious scars.
Recovery time is long and it takes several months to heal.
The risk of infection is very high.
Signs that remain are:
- Scars surgery (grafts),
- Scars with fibrous tissue,
- Rigidity .
burn The fourth degree burn does not heal on its own and at least one surgery or wound sutures is needed.
A study was conducted at a center specializing in severe burns: Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was done by: BM Parrett, Pomahac B, Demling RH, Orgill DP.
The study was performed in 21 patients with a mean area of burned body surface area of approximately 24%.
To save the limbs, eight surgeries were medically necessary.
Four patients (18%) underwent amputation of at least one limb .
Patients operated with the flap closure method underwent less salvage surgery compared to those operated with the graft method.
The mean duration of hospitalization was 76 days.