Essential First Aid Tips for Burns Everyone Should Know of

November 23, 2018 4 min read

accident aid bandageA burn refers to tissue injury resulting from direct exposure, or contact with, electrical, chemical, radiation or thermal (steam, hot liquids, fire, hot objects etc) sources. Burns are often incredibly painful. Usually, you can treat minor burns at home. However, more serious burns can even be life-threatening, and usually require immediate medical attention. It’s important to recognize the difference of the burn so as to get the care you need as fast as possible.

If you are not sure of the source of the burn, assume that it’s a severe burn and urgently seek medical attention. Read on to learn about first aid tips for burns to help manage the wound even as you wait for help to arrive.

Identifying the degree of the burn

Not all burns are the same and some can be treated at home but for others, you will require the help of a medical professional. Before you do anything with your burn, the first thing is to take a few minutes to determine the degree of the burn. Your burn will most probably worsen in the next couple of days, so keep a keen look on how it’s healing. There are basically three degrees of burns which are as follows:

First degree burn

First degree burns tend to be the most common, and result from light scalding, the sun, or brief contact with hot objects. Normally, the damage only affects the outer or superficial layer of the skin. Most likely, these burns appear red, swollen slightly and may be slightly painful or not.


•First degree burns can be treated at home, as there is no need for professional medical attention. The skin’s outermost layer has self-healing properties, and if given time and care, will be okay.

•First degree burns are often called minor burns, and you should treat them as such. Sometimes you may have a serious first-degree burn, for instance full body sunburn. However, this does not require medical attention.

Second degree burn

major 2nd degree burn
Second degree
burns result from brief contact with extremely hot things (for instance boiling water), prolonged exposure to the sun and prolonged contact with objects that are hot. Second degree burns should be treated as minor burns unless it’s on your hands, groin, face or feet. Do not drain blisters if you have them. Where blisters are drained, rinse it with water and swab with antibacterial ointment to keep it clean. Also, you can cover the ointment on the skin using a bandaid. You should change this dressing daily.

A second degree burn usually burns two layers of the skin. If the burn is more than three inches in width, covers your joints, genitals. Hands or refuses to heal over several weeks, call your doctor immediately.

Third degree burn

A third-degree burn refers to a deep burn that penetrates several layers of the skin. It usually requires emergency assistance.

First-aid tips for burns

1. Run cool water over your burn.

Cold water helps to sooth the burn and also kicks off the healing process through minimizing the extent of injury to the skin. Immediately after the burn, hold the part of the skin that’s damaged under water, or even pour water over it. Keep the burned put under the water for at least 20 minutes.

This is important irrespective of the type of burn you have, whether first-, second, or third-degree. But if the burns are severe and cover large parts of the body, do not run water over them. If you do this, the person with the burn can be susceptible to shock and hypothermia.

Avoid placing ice to a burn as this can cause further damage to the skin. Rather, just run cool water over the burnt area.


2. Put a cool, clean piece of cloth over a burn that is severe until emergency help comes

cloth cover for woundThis helps keep the skin cool, and allow it to begin the process of healing. Also, it minimizes chances of the burn getting exposed to germs. Lift the cloth and shift it around every few minutes to prevent it from sticking to the skin. Avoid using wet dressing or a wet sheet.

3.Elevate parts with severe burns above the heart

Elevating the burned areas minimizes pain and swelling. For instance, if the burn is on the forearm, the individual with the burn ought to lie flat on their back and have their burned arm rested on a fluffy pillow next to them.

4. Take off any jewelry on the affected area

Where you have jewelry that could restrict the flow of blood to the area, make sure you remove it immediately.

Things you may need to remove include bracelets, rings, anklets, necklaces or any other object that may cut off blood flow during swelling.

Swelling will start immediately, which is why you need to start removing these items at the earliest opportunity. However, make sure you remove them gently to avoid irritating the damaged tissues further.

5.Seek emergency medical help for third-degree burns

Third degree burns appear yellow, bright red or white, because the skin’s top layers have been burnt. Have the injured person taken to a safe place and then seek help immediately. In case you are alone, immediately call for help, because third degree burns are so severe and can lead to shock.

Clothing tends to retain heat, so remove all of the clothing as soon as possible if it’s not stuck. But leave materials that could be adherent on, for instance nylon.

6. Call for emergency if the burn covers a sensitive part of the body

Irrespective of the degree of the burn, it’s always advisable to call for emergency medical care right away if the burn is on a sensitive area. Sensitive areas include feet, buttocks, major joints, hands and the face.

Burns can be extremely painful, which is why immediate action needs to be taken to control the pain. As you wait for help, there are a few things you can do. Clean and protect the wound from germ exposure. Also, run cold water over the wound to soothe the pain and also begin the healing process. For larger burns or those affecting vital organs, seek urgent medical help as soon as you can.


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