A burn is an injury that generally affects the skin although it may also spread to deeper tissues including muscles, blood vessels and bones. Burns are caused by heat, electricity, chemicals and may also occur due to radiation and friction. All burns are classified into three categories depending on their extent. There are first, second and third degree burns. Each of them has a different prognosis and while in first degree burns the damage can be repaired in case of third degree burns the damaged tissues are replaced with unsightly scars and there may be additional complications.
Second Degree Burns
In majority of cases second degree burns result from flames, chemicals and hot liquids. Even severe sunburns can be in a form of second degree burns. Damage in second degree burns affects the skin and spreads to the entire dermis. They are very painful and usually larger than 3 inches. Minor second degree burns may heal without excessive scaring. But if they are more serious a casualty may lose a lot of fluid and develop shock. Shock caused by second degree burns is characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure and increase in heart rate, nausea, vomiting, weakness and fainting.
Treatment for Second Degree Burns
The goal of the treatment is to reduce the pain and prevent secondary bacterial infection. Minor burns can be easily treated at home. It is essential to remove clothes from the injured part of the body. The burnt skin should be kept cooled by cold running water. After a while the injured part should be held in an elevated position. This prevents excessive swelling.
Smaller burns may be washed with antiseptic cleanser and covered with non-sticky dressing. The bandage should be kept on for a day. In case of any signs of infection one should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Pain caused by a burn is alleviated with painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
There are several things people must never do. First of all burns must never be treated with ice or ice cold water. They can cause even more damage to the skin. Furthermore, if injured area is covered with blisters they must not be punctured. The wound should never be covered with ointments, oil, butter, grease or petroleum. Such substances may cause even more damage to the affected area. If there are bits of clothes stuck to the skin these must not be removed.
In case of a second degree chemical burns the first thing to do is to remove clothes around the injured area. The injury is supposed to be washed with water. This procedure lasts for approximately half an hour. Only this way a chemical can be completely removed and cannot cause any more damage. After that a person should consult a doctor for further treatment.