The first aid treatment of burns begins with identifying the right type of the burns according to degree. The three types of burns include: first-degree burn, second-degree burn, and third-degree burn. Each type of burn requires a different set of emergency care.
Description: First-degree burns are the least serious among the three types of burns based on severity. A first-degree burn results from the outer layer of the skin being burned. The most common cause of first-degree burn is coming in contact with a hot object or surface.
Signs and Symptoms: The manifestations of first-degree burns include:
First Aid: For the initial treatment of burns, you need to remember the 3 C’s: Cool, Cover, and Calm.
First, cool the burnt area by means of holding it under cool running water for about 10 to 15 minutes. The water must not be too cold. Or, you can place cold compress over the area. Do not put ice over the burnt area. Direct ice application may further damage the area rather than treat it, and may also put the patient at risk for hypothermia or abnormally low body temperature.
Second, cover the burnt area using a sterile gauze bandage. It must be covered loosely to avoid putting pressure on the area and prevent breaking any blisters. Never cover the affected area with cotton or any material other than a sterile gauze to avoid infection and reduce pain.
Third, calm the patient by means of using an over-the-counter pain medication. The most common pain meds used for first-degree burns include aspirin (except for flu or chickenpox patients and children under 2 years old), ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen.
If blisters formed on or around the affected area, do not break them to prevent infection. Also, never apply any ointment, butter or egg whites over the burnt area as doing so will increase chances of the area being infected.
If the first-degree burns involve large skin portions of the trunk, buttocks, face, hands, and/or feet, bring the patient to the nearest emergency care unit for further treatment.
Description: A second-degree burn results from the damage of the upper skin layer called epidermis up to the underlying skin layer called dermis. The most common causes of second-degree burns include prolonged contact to objects on fire and being exposed to chemical substances (leading to chemical burns).
Signs and Symptoms: The usual manifestations of second-degree burns are:
First Aid: Treat it as a minor burn if the second-degree burn is not larger than 3 inches or abiut 7 to 8 centimeters in diameter. For the treatment, refer to the 3C’s as explained earlier for first-degree burn. If the affected area is larger than 3 inches, follow the 3C’s and seek emergencyattention immediately thereafter.
Description: Third-degree burns affect all layers of the skin – from the outside layer or epidermis, to the underlying layer or dermis, up to the layer of fat deposits, muscles, and even bones. Thus, third-defee burns are the most serious and severe burns. They can result to permaneng tissue damage. The most common causes of third-degree burns include electrocution, prolonged exposure to chemicals or objects on fire.
Signs and Symptoms
First Aid: Call 911 or your local emergency unit for immediate medical help. While waiting for the emergency unit’s arrival, apply first aid treatment. First, remove the victim from the cause of the injury. However, do not remove the burnt clothing. Check the patient’ status including any movement, breathing, or coughing. If breathing is absent, start applying CPR.
When the patient regains breathing, raise the burned body part above the level of the heart when possible. Do not immerse the area in cold water or put ice as these would cause hypothermia and circulatory shock. After elevating the area, cover it using a moistened (not soaked) sterile bandage, towel, or cloth.
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