Burns are considered serious injuries that may affect the skin and underlying tissues. They may be caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, radiation or friction. Everyone should be familiar with first aid for burns. Further treatment for severe burns is done at specialized burn centers.
Types of Burns
It is good if one can identify the type of burn and act accordingly.
The first-degree burns swell a bit and the affected skin is red and painful. If they are pressed these burns turn white. Within a day or two the affected skin may peel off. First-degree burns can heal within 6 days with suitable treatment.
The second-degree burns are thicker and very painful. They are in a form of blisters and significant swelling of the affected skin. The skin becomes intensively red and splotchy. Second-degree burns may heal within several weeks (2-3).
Third-degree burns do serious damage to all the layers of the skin. The burn is in this case white and may be completely charred. This type of burn may cause mild pain or can be completely painless. Lack of painful sensations is explained by damage to nerves in the affected skin and the body is not able to identify pain.
And finally fourth-degree burns are the most severe ones. They affect the skin and underlying tissues including muscles and even bones. The burn is in this case charred with eschar, dry and causes no pain.
First Aid Burn Treatment
No matter what the cause of the burn is; the first step is to stop the burning process. The burn area can be cooled with running water for several minutes. Early cooling is highly efficient in reduction of burn depth and pain. The cooling must be careful since if it is intensive, it may lead to hypothermia.
According to the appearance of the burn a person may assume the type of the burn. In case the damaged area is larger than one entire arm or the whole abdomen calling 911 or taking the victim to the emergency department is a must. 911 must be also called in case of burns on the face, hands, feet and genitalia. Only small and mild burns with reddening of the skin and no blisters do not require immediate medical help.
The prehospital care is essential as in case of any other trauma and its goal is to take care of person's airways, breathing and circulation. Resuscitation and stabilization are necessary if there are problems with breathing and circulation. The casualty is administered suitable amount of fluids according to the Parkland formula. Half of the entire volume of fluid is supposed to be administered within the first 8 hours and the remnant fluid is given over the following 16 hours. Further treatment for burns continues within a specialized hospital under supervision of well experienced doctors.