Minor Burns: Emergency Room Tips
Burns are injuries occurring to the skin and underlying tissue. Skin damage resulting from burns can be small or big; it depends on the heat’s intensity, the total area of tissues burned, and the length of exposure to the skin.
In this article, we shall focus on minor burns, commonly referred to as first degree burns. Doctors and physicians at Frontline ER, attend to all kinds of injuries affecting both children and adults. The wounds have a variety of causes, including:
- Flame burns caused by any contact with flames from matches, candles, and lighters
- Scalding from hot, boiling water or any other liquids
- Contact burn caused by cigarettes, hot objects such as irons, or cooking appliances
- Sunburn involves damage to the skin caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted from the sun.
- Hot air from exhaust pipes, hair dryers
Risk Factors for Minor Burns
Some of the patients at FrontLine ER who are predisposed to such burns include:
- Children and the elderly are likely to sustain burns because they tend to have a delayed reaction when exposed to hot substances
- People whose jobs require them to work with chemicals, electricity or hot elements like fire, heat or steam.
- People with a psychiatric disorder, neurological diseases like stroke or people with increased levels of alcohol consumption.
Making the Diagnosis
Minor burns involve the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin. Some of the symptoms are redness, sensitivity or pain, and swelling of the skin. There’s usually no blistering.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment decisions are based on the need to reduce swelling, relieve pain, prevent infection, and promote healing. It is possible to treat minor burns at home and full recovery within a week. Often the skin will peel and sometimes you will experience temporary, mild changes in skin tone.
Treatments for a first-degree burn include:
- Apply cold, moist compresses on the affected area to reduce the swelling and pain.
- Hold the burned skin under cold running water or submerge in cold water until pain recedes.
- Protect the burn by covering with a clean cloth or a sterile non-adhesive bandage to ease discomfort.
- If no blisters have formed, you can apply a water-based skin moisturizer, Aloe Vera or antibiotic cream to help the skin heal.
- Treat pain by using over-the-counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), Naproxen Sodium (Aleve) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Consider having a tetanus shot
While carrying out the above treatments do not exert pressure on the burned skin or try to break blisters. In case blisters have formed, avoid applying any ointments as these may increase the burning sensation and increase your chances of getting an infection.
People with electrical burns from irons or cooking appliances should always see a doctor. The damage may appear superficial but the deeper tissues may be affected, a fact that may not be immediately evident. They may also be at risk for cardiac arrhythmias within three days after being burned.
All in all, if the symptoms become more unbearable even after home treatment, you should rush to FrontLine ER to get professional medical care.
Minor burns carry the risk of infections because bacteria can enter the region where the skin has been broken. Tetanus is another possible complication. It is a bacterial infection that affects the nervous system, eventually leading to problems with muscle contractions. The doctors at FrontLine ER can check and give you a tetanus jab if you haven’t had one.
Preventing Minor Burns
One of the easiest ways to combat burns is to prevent them from happening. Although most burns occur at home, some jobs put you at a higher risk for such injuries. FrontLine ER recommend some protective measures you can take at home; they include:
- Check children’s bath water temperature before use
- Keep the water heater temperature below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ensure that children are out of the kitchen while you are cooking.
- All electrical appliances must off when not in use
- The pot handles should always face toward the back of the stove.
- Keep a fire extinguisher near or in the kitchen.
- Test the indoor smoke detectors once a month. Also be sure to replace them every ten years.
- Lock away matchboxes and lighters from the reach of children
- Discard electrical cords with exposed wires and install electrical outlet covers
- Keep all chemicals out of reach and always wear gloves during chemical use.
- If you or anyone else in the house smokes, ensure the cigarettes are stubbed out completely.
For those in the workplace, some controls can be implemented to avoid the risk of thermal, chemical and electrical burns. They include:
- Wearing flame-resistant clothing
- Using the proper protective gear if you are unsure if the equipment is hot or not
- Avoid reaching over or through hot pipes and surfaces
- Keep open flames and sparks away from combustible materials
It is essential to know what to do and the steps to take in case of a minor burn. It pays to have a well-equipped first aid kit, in a sturdy, clear plastic box nearby.