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Treatment Tips

Published:Wednesday | July 27, 2022 | 12:08 AMKeisha Hill - Senior Gleaner Writer

Although first-degree burns are not as serious as higher-degree burns, they can hurt quite a bit and can leave a scar if not properly treated. Appropriate first aid must be used to treat any burns or scalds as soon as possible. This will limit the amount of damage to your skin.

To treat a first-degree burn at home, follow these tips from dermatologists:

• First-degree burns: Run cool water over the burn. Don’t apply ice. For sunburns, apply aloe vera gel. For thermal burns, apply antibiotic cream and cover lightly with gauze. You can also take over-the-counter pain medication.

• Second-degree burns: Treatment for second- and first-degree burns is similar. Your doctor may prescribe a stronger antibiotic cream that contains silver, such as silver sulfadiazine, to kill bacteria. Elevating the burned area can reduce pain and swelling.

• Third-degree burns: Third-degree burns can be life-threatening and often require skin grafts. Skin grafts replace damaged tissue with healthy skin from another of the uninjured part of the person’s body. The area where the skin graft is taken from generally heals on its own.

If the person does not have enough skin available for a graft at the time of injury, a temporary source of graft can come from a deceased donor or a human-made (artificial) source but these will eventually need to be replaced by the person’s own skin. Treatment also includes extra fluids (usually given intravenously, with an IV) to keep blood pressure steady and prevent shock and dehydration.

Third-degree burns that are deep and affect a large portion of skin are very serious and can be life-threatening. Even first- and second-degree burns can become infected and cause discolouration and scarring. First-degree burns don’t cause scarring.

Potential complications of third-degree burns include:

• Arrhythmia, or heart rhythm disturbances, caused by an electrical burn

• Dehydration

• Disfiguring scars and contractures

• Edema (excess fluid and swelling in tissues)

• Organ failure

• Pneumonia

• Seriously low blood pressure (hypotension) that may lead to shock

• Severe infection that may lead to amputation or sepsis

How To Prevent Burns?

Burns have many accidental causes. You can take these steps to reduce the risk of burns:

• Wear sunscreen

• Set your home’s hot water heater below 120 degrees Fahrenheit

• Always test the water in a shower or bath before getting in or bathing a child

• Lock up chemicals, lighters and matches

• Use the stove’s back burners as much as possible when cooking, turn handles of pots and pans where they won’t be bumped and don’t leave the stove unattended

• Don’t hold a child when you’re near hot objects, such as the stove

• Set safeguards around a fireplace and never leave a child unattended

With proper treatment, most first- and second-degree burns heal over two to three weeks. Depending on the burn severity, you may have some scarring, which may fade over time.

People recovering from third-degree burns need physical and occupational therapy to maintain joint mobility and improve function. Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression after a burn event.

Thanks to medical advancements, many people who have burns covering even up to 90 per cent of their bodies survive.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.comSOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology Association, Medicine news Today