You are exposed to burn risks every day ranging from morning cup coffee, ironing your clothes, using a heater, and even just being exposed to electricity. At some point, you are likely to experience a burn. Some people prefer to ignore burn injuries, especially if they are minor while others treat them at home with home remedies such as vaseline or apple cider vinegar.
However, that can make a seemingly small problem worse, depending on the severity of the burn. This is because not all burns can be treated at home, some are severe and require doctor’s care while others can get infected, and extreme situations can become life-threatening. Read through to find out which burns require medical attention and the ones you can treat at home, as well as burn care tips.
When should you go to the ER for a burn?
At what point should I go to the doctor for a burn?
Burns can be scary, both for infants and adults, and it is not always clear if you can treat the burn on your own or if you need to have it assessed by a doctor. If you determine your burn to be severe enough to require further assessment, go to emergency care, or call 911.
Burns are classified based on their severity- first, second, third, fourth, five, and sixth-degree burns. A first-degree burn is one which affects only the outer layer of the skin(epidermis) without blisters or wound. A first-degree burn looks like a minor sunburn and in most cases results to redness, swelling, and pain. If the burn affects less than a quarter size of your skin and is not over a major joint, you can frequently care for it at home safely.
A second degree, also known as the partial thickness of burns, involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of the skin. Second-degree burn appears red, blistered and could be swollen and painful. In most cases, the second-degree burn is caused by electricity, chemicals, scald injuries, sunburn, and flames. It is worth noting that a second-degree burn can be similar to other conditions or medical problems; thus, you should seek medical attention in case the burn is on a child. Also, see a doctor if the burn does not clear in three weeks. All the other burn degrees-third, fourth, fifth, and sixth- require medical care.
A third-degree burn is also known as full thickness burn. This kind of burn destroys the outer layer of the skin as well as the entire layer under the dermis. In most circumstances, third-degree burns are caused by a chemical source, flames from a fire, scalding liquid, and electrical source. Also, skin coming in contact with a hot object for a prolonged period can result in a third-degree burn. Even though people might experience different symptoms, the most common signs of third-degree burns include:
Third-degree burns should always be assessed immediately in the emergency room. Some cases might require transfer to a burn center for further treatment.
What is the first-aid treatment for 3rd-degree burns?
The first thing to do for a significant burn, which has the symptoms above is call 911. Then you can proceed with the practices below until the emergency help arrives:
Burns are vulnerable to infection. It can be challenging to tell if a mild burn is infected since the skin around a burn is usually red and may become warm to the touch, both of which are primary signs of an infected burn. Any change in the aspect of a burn, or in the way that the person who experiences the burn feels, should be required doctor’s attention. Possible signs of infection include:
Typically here are questions to ask yourself to determine if you need to see a doctor for a burn.
What is the first-aid treatment for 3rd-degree burns?
According to medical guidance, you should call 911 or visit an ER if the burn involves the face, hands, groin, ears, eyes, across a joint, affects many areas of the body or a major portion of the body- or if your burn involves more than just superficial tissue.
How deep is the burn?
A deep burn typically causes blister as soon as the injury. If a burn affects only the epidermis, it might not need immediate medical care, but if the burn feels like it has affected deeper into the skin, head to ER. Note that you may not feel pain for a deeper burn.
What is the size of the burn?
You should seek medical attention if the burn covers a large region-bigger than the palm of the hands. Bigger burns may cause impair function, depending on their location. If the burn is on foot, and it is making it hard for you to walk or wear shoes, you should also visit a doctor.
Who has received a burn?
Whether a burn is minor or major, head to the ER if the person who has received the burn is an infant younger than six months or an elderly.
What is the cause of the burn?
Head to the hospital if the burn resulted from an electrical source, chemical source, flames, fire embers, or hot grease.
Is the burn infected?
Look for the signs of infection, as discussed above. Look for the following signs increasing pain, redness and swelling of the skin, and odor.
What will a doctor do a burn?
What will a burn doctor specialist do to a burn?
After you are admitted for treatment, the burn doctor will first asses tissue damage and the severity of the burn. Burns are examined by the area they have affected, size, depth, and the level of moisture.
In severe burn circumstances, the skin cannot replenish itself to heal the burn. In such a case, a surgeon will be consulted for a skin graft. It can take up to two weeks for a burn area to ultimately show its size and depth, which is why careful monitoring is necessary for all degrees of burns.
A dressing can be applied to keep the burn wound dry and prevent bacterial infection. You might have to see a doctor over a series of visits to ensure the care and healing of the burn area. Your doctor will be able to evaluate if a specialist is needed to further your treatment plan.
It is worth noting that people who have experienced severe burns, may need treatment at specialized burn centers. They might also need skin grafts to cover the large wound. Besides, they may require emotional support, and several months follow up care, such as physical therapy.
Medical treatment for severe burns
After a person has received first aid for a major burn, the doctor might give medical care inclusive of medications and products that are intended to promote healing.
How can you tell if a burn is minor enough to be treated at home?
A mild burn that does not need emergency care may involve:
To treat a minor burn, hold the area under cool running water or apply a cool, wet compress until the pain eases. Be quick and gentle on swollen areas. After a burn is completely cooled, apply a lotion, which contains aloe vera or moisturizer. This will help prevent drying and offer relief. Then cover the area using a sterile gauze bandage. You may use over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen to relieve pain.
Minor burn home treatment
If you are confident that your burn can be dealt with at home without medical assistance, follow these steps to help it heal: