Treating a burn – step by step guideline

burned handBurns are listed among the most common household injuries affecting people of all ages. Ideally, a burn or scald injury can result from contact with any source of heat. However, this does not ignore the fact that there are other burns such as those caused by chemicals. Regardless of the cause, level and severity of a burn, there are basic first aid steps that must be taken to treat the person before further medical attention is sought. Here is the insight:

Stop the burn

The burning process should be stopped as soon as possible. This can be done by either moving the affected person away from the heat source or getting the heat source away from the affected person. Whichever that seems easier should be done first because further exposure to the cause of the burn may cause irreversible damage. Even so, be careful not to put yourself at risk in the process of rescuing someone from the heat source.

If the burn had been caused by chemicals, the first step is to rinse away the chemical and immediately remove any contaminated clothing as this will farther the burn.

Remove any clothing or jewelry

There could be some clothing or jewelry such as rings and chains surrounding the affected area. These can be really painful and difficult to get rid of especially after the burn. If it is possible to remove them before administering further treatment, this could be the next best alternative. If they seem stuck, however, do not force because such a move can cause greater damage to the burnt skin.

Cool the burn using cool or lukewarm water


The burning sensation is overly disturbing and outrightly painful, a reason why the affected area should be cooled with running water for a duration of about 10-30 minutes. However, be careful not to spray the affected area with too much pressure as this could affect the scald. Just let the water run gently over the affected area until the victim feels the calming sensation. On similar grounds, avoid the use of ice and iced water. Since the skin is already damaged, ice can easily result into frostbite, which aggravates the issue at hand.

If you lack clean and cool water, however, just remember that any clean fluid that does not react with the skin can serve the purpose. Such includes beer and most of the soft drinks.

Keep the affected person warm

Using a blanket or multiple layers of clothing, the affected person should be kept warm unless there is sufficient heat in the surrounding. This is done to prevent hypothermia, a condition where someone’s body temperature drops below 35®C. Hypothermia is a major risk especially if you are cooling a large burnt area in elderly victims as well as children.

Cover the affected area with a cling film

coveringFind a clean cling film and place it in a layer over the burn. This sterile dressing should only be applied after you have cooled the affected area with a fluid. The dressing or rather cling film should be non-adhesive to avoid peeling of the skin the moment it is removed. If there are any blisters, ensure you don’t remove them. Just apply the cling film to the skin as it is with all the blisters and skin peels.

Go for a pain relief option

Pain relievers (which are mostly over-the-counter-products) are ideal in calming the pain resulting from minor burns. From the local drug stores, therefore, get medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to contain the pain. If a stronger pain relief option is required, however, you need to call a doctor or visit an emergency department.

Seek advanced medical attention

Depending on the severity of a burn, you may be required to seek specialized medical attention. However, this attention should be sought after all the initial first aid measures have been taken.

You will be seeking medical attention if:

– The affected area is big or deep. Typically, any burn that exceeds the size of a person’s hand should be taken for specialized medical help.
– There is a full-thickness burn. This is the kind of burn that results into charring of the skin.
– The burn was caused by chemicals or an electrical shock.
– The affected person is expectant.
– The affected person is under 5 years of age or above 6o years of age.
– The affected person has other medical complications such as heart, liver and lung diseases

In summary, there are several kinds of burns which differ in depth and severity. Depending on the cause and severity of the burn, you will be treated to various pain relief options. For the common burns, however, this first aid process should be administered instantly before the victim is sent for specialized medical care.