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First Aid

How to Recognize and Treat First, Second, and Third Degree Heat Injuries

A burn can be a life threatening injury to any age patient regardless of their current health. While most are minor, there are many myths that should be dispelled to avoid making a relatively innocuous incident much worse. The proper recognition of a burn’s seriousness with proper treatment can minimize pain, and certainly prevent serious infection and possibly death.

Do’s and Don’ts With Burns

Always do run it under cool water for 5-10 minutes to stop the burning process. Don’t use ice, it is too cold and may cause further damage to the skin and tissue. Don’t put butter, ointment or any household remedy on a burn.

Identifying the Three Degree’s of Burns

Burns are treated based on their “degree”. There are three degrees, consisting of first, second and third degree burns. Identification of the degree of burn is easy and can be done by anyone with just this knowledge.

First Degree

These are heat injuries that are identified by discolored skin associated with pain. Some patients skin turns red when burned, other patients’ skin may darken, or even lighten. There are no blisters present. Burned skin that is discolored only, can most often be identified as a First Degree Burn. The treatment for a first degree burn is to run it under cold water for 5-10 minutes, then protect the injury from further damage. First Aid creams specifically made for this type of injury can be used but remember, no ointment.

Second Degree

These are heat injuries that are no longer considered minor burns. They are characterized by discolored skin along with blisters. The treatment for a second-degree burn is to initially run it under cold water for 5-10 minutes to stop the burning process. Then keep it dry and covered.

  • Do not break or pop the blisters, this opens the door to potentially life threatening infection
  • Do not keep a wet towel or cloth on the blisters, once again, this can compromise the integrity of the blister, allowing for infection
  • If the burned area is larger than the patient’s own hand, seek emergency medical care.

Third Degree Burns

These are heat injuries are characterized by charring, or the presence of a wound caused by the burn. Third degree burns are life threatening due to their overwhelming vulnerability to infection. The treatment for a third degree burn is simple. Call 911. Emergency care is required to prevent infection, shock and scaring, all of which are possible and probably without prompt emergency medical care. Take third degree burns as seriously as possible to prevent loss of life and limb, literally.

Source by Benjamin B Karp

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