Burns occur in a variety of ways and not always from heat sources. They can require minor care but can also be life threatening depending on the extent of the body area involved and the type of burn. Some burns, like electrical burns, can even cause damage that may not be seen but is just as lethal as thermal type burns. Here are some examples of the different types of burns and what you should do if you experience any of these at home.
One thing to remember is that nearly ALL BURNS should be EVALUATED by a MEDICAL PROVIDER
Thermal burn is essentially a burn caused by some sort of heat source. This can be flames or other type of heat, even the sun, so technically a bad sunburn is a thermal burn. Thermal burns are classified as first, second or third degree depending on how severe they are and how deep into the tissue they affect.
The most minor type of burn, this usually just involves a reddening of the skin. A sunburn is a typical first-degree burn, but is still very painful. The key to managing first-degree burns is to stop the burning process. Avoid any product that traps heat in the skin. Likewise, applying ice will only further damage already tissue that has been damaged. Cool water or compresses are the best bet along with OTC pain relief.
A second degree burn is noted by more severe pain, redness and most commonly, blisters. While many second-degree burns may not require medical attention, it’s important to recognize that if a second-degree burn involves any joint, the face, chest or genitals, prompt medical attention should be sought.
It is also important that blisters not be forcefully broken. If they rupture on their own, try to keep the skin underneath clean and covered.
Obviously the worse type of thermal burn, a third-degree involves multiple layers of skin, sometimes all the way through to muscle or even bone. The burn can also include charring of skin so badly that the tissue will contract causing difficulty in movement or even breathing. ALL third-degree burns should be IMMEDIATELY evaluated by medical professionals.
An electrical burn can be very dangerous because while there may be an actual ‘burned’ area at the point of contact (often the hands or feet) the lethal damage is the path the current or electricity took through the body to ground. The FIRST PRIORITY with any victim of an ELECTRICAL BURN is making sure that both you and the victim are SAFE. Be sure that the source of the electricity has been cut off.
Next, make sure that the victim has a pulse. If not- call 911 and begin CPR.
Electrical burns- and electric shock- most often can disrupt the heart. Be sure to focus on whether the person is conscious and breathing before any burn damage.
Often the danger of chemical burns is due to the chemical reaction that is caused by interaction of the chemical and water or some other solution. Be very careful to get any and all available information before taking action. If possible, bring the container or a sample of the chemical with you to the hospital. DO NOT induce vomiting if the chemical was swallowed unless directed to do so by medical authorities.
Treating Burns at Home
Remember the first priority is to stop the burning process. Put the fire out or remove the person from the heat source. REMEMBER: STOP – DROP – and ROLL.
Do NOT APPLY any ointment, cream or lotion to a burn prior to a medical evaluation.
Never apply butter or ice to a burn. Use instead cool water to wet clean towels or cloths to cover the burned areas.