Treating burns can be done at home if the injuries aren't severe. However, you need to know what type of burn you have in order to do this. There are three degree types of burns: first, second and third. First degree injuries involve the top layer of skin. These types of burns are painful, but may not require emergency medical care. Second and third degree types involve the underlying layers. Here is how to treat first degree burns and what they look like. If you have the other types, seek emergency care.
For treating burns, you’ll need:
- cool water
- sterile dressing
- pain relievers
- Check the skin. The first thing to do is check the skin for burn severity. Treating burns requires knowing exactly how deep or bad the injury is before administering any type of treatment. Any burn that shows the second layer of skin, charring or blistering requires medical treatment from a physician. First degree burns are usually red, swollen and painful.
- Soak in cool water. If the burn doesn’t show signs of deep tissue damage or has penetrated the second layer, soak it in cool water. You can also run cool water on the injury if no broken skin is showing. Later apply a cool, wet wash cloth or towel to the site. This reduces pain. Do not apply ice or extremely cold water to the site. Also do not apply creams, lotions or ointments.
- Apply a dressing or bandage wrap. After making sure the burn is not severe and applying the cool water, wrap the injury in a sterile dressing. You can also use a bandage that is large enough to cover the site.
- Give pain reliever. To minimize pain, take an aspirin or pain reliever. This may also help reduce or prevent fever and infection. Over-the-counter aspirin and ibuprofen are good medications to take. However, do not give medications to children under twelve years of age. Some children can acquire Reye's Syndrome, a problem associated with taking aspirin-containing products.
For burns that are second or third degree, call emergency services. Never treat burns that are larger than your hand or show signs of deep tissue damage. Also do not treat burns caused by electricity or chemicals. Contact 911 if the burn causes shock, infection or severe pain at the time of the injury or after the initial treatment. When in doubt about treating the burn, call emergency services.