Burns are among one of the most common household injuries reported, and many of us can remember being burned at least once especially as a child (Chocolate chip cookies anyone?). Most burns will fall into the minor category and are very simple to treat, however, in some instances they can be severe enough to warrant needing a more comprehensive approach.
Burns occur when the skin is damaged by exposure to a heat source, and most burns fall into three categories known as “degrees” which help us rank the level of tissue damage.
If you have questions about the extent of your injuries and the best treatment options, have a conversation with your care providers. They will be able to answer questions specific to your case. Some burn victims will experience multiple degrees of damage across the same general area, so your treatment plan will be customized to your specific needs.
Any burn that is a second degree or greater will need medical attention right away! If you are experiencing a medical emergency call 911.
Burn injuries can be caused by exposure to the following elements:
The burn severity depends on the level of heat applied and how long it came in contact with the burned skin and how thick the skin in the affected area is.
Burn symptoms depend on how deep the skin damage goes, and sometimes the signs of a severe burn take a day or two to develop.
If you want to prevent your burn from getting worse one of the first things you can try right after the initial injury is running cool water over the area for at least 20 minutes. Doing this cools the skin down and can prevent further skin damage while also providing some pain relief.
Another important step in burn treatment is keeping the affected area clean to prevent infection. Use a mild antibacterial soap and be gentle. Avoid scrubbing if possible. Bandages can provide a level of protection against infection, but they aren’t always necessary. If you decide to use one, be sure to apply it loosely. Antibiotic creams can also be a good choice to keep infection at bay especially if there any open or oozing blisters. This is when you’re at the highest risk of complications. Stay out of the sun if possible to avoid further damage, but if you must go outside during the day, keep the burn covered by loose clothing or dressing.
Keeping the burn area moisturized is extremely helpful. Besides over-the-counter creams and ointments, aloe vera can also be very therapeutic. It promotes healing from burns and has antibiotic properties which makes it beneficial in fighting infection.
While it’s possible to care for minor burns yourself at home with some simple first-aid, other burns can be quite a bit more serious. Here are the factors to pay attention to when determining the severity of the burn and whether or not to seek medical attention:
Generally speaking, the bigger the burn, the more serious it could be. In adults, if a burn covers more than 3% (or 3 palms) of the victim’s Body Surface Area (BSA) you should seek care. In children, seek medical attention right away if the burn is more than 2% BSA.
If the burn is second-degree or more, you should seek medical attention right away.
Areas of the body such as the face, hands, feet, or genitals, burns that completely encircle a body part, and burns that are located over a joint are more difficult to care for and are more susceptible to infection. These require extra attention to prevent additional complications. These kinds of burns should be seen by your doctor.
Please note that additional precautions may be necessary for higher-risk patients such as infants and young children, the elderly, diabetics, and anyone with chronic medical conditions. These people usually take longer to heal and are more likely to experience complications.
Wound Care OC is your best choice for burn treatment in Orange County. Our dedicated staff of skilled professionals led by Faried Banimahd, MD will make sure you receive the best possible care. If you are dealing with a burn that needs attention, please call our office today!