How to treat a burn

How to treat a burn

Thermal (Heat or Fire) Burns Treatment

CALL 911 IF:

The burn penetrates all layers of the skin.

The skin is leathery or charred looking, with white, brown, or black patches.

The person is an infant or a senior.

For All Burns

1. Stop Burning Immediately

Put out fire or stop the person’s contact with hot liquid, steam, or other material.

Help the person “stop, drop, and roll” to smother flames.

Remove smoldering material from the person.

Remove hot or burned clothing. If clothing sticks to skin, cut or tear around it.

2. Remove Constrictive Clothing Immediately

Take off jewelry, belts, and tight clothing. Burns can swell quickly.

Then take the following steps:

For First-Degree Burns (Affecting Top Layer of Skin)

1. Cool Burn

Hold burned skin under cool (not cold) running water or immerse in cool water until the pain subsides.

Use compresses if running water isn’t available.

2. Protect Burn

  • Cover loosely with sterile, nonstick bandage and secure in place with gauze or tape.

3. Prevent Shock

Unless the person has a head, neck, or leg injury, or it would cause discomfort:

  • Lay the person flat.
  • Elevate feet about 12 inches.
  • Elevate burn area above heart level, if possible.
  • Cover the person with coat or blanket.

4. See a Doctor

  • The doctor can test burn severity, prescribe antibiotics and pain medications, and administer a tetanus shot, if needed.

For Third-Degree Burns

1. Call 911

2. Protect Burn Area

  • Cover loosely with sterile, nonstick bandage or, for large areas, a sheet or other material that that won’t leave lint in wound.
  • Separate burned toes and fingers with dry, sterile dressings.
  • Do not soak burn in water or apply ointments or butter, which can cause infection.

3. Prevent Shock

Unless the person has a head, neck, or leg injury or it would cause discomfort:

  • Lay the person flat.
  • Elevate feet about 12 inches.
  • Elevate burn area above heart level, if possible.
  • Cover the person with coat or blanket.
  • For an airway burn, do not place pillow under the person’s head when the person is lying down. This can close the airway.
  • Have a person with a facial burn sit up.
  • Check pulse and breathing to monitor for shock until emergency help arrives.

4. See a Doctor

  • Doctors will give oxygen and fluid, if needed, and treat the burn.

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