link to Home Page

icon Burn Treatment

Treatment consists of immediately cooling the area with large amounts of cool water or cool wet compresses (keep them cool and moist). Use the cleanest water (i.e., running water from a nearby creek) and cloth that you can find to help reduce the risk of infection. Infection and dehydration are major killers associated with burn injuries. It is also essential to cool the skin as soon as possible because the skin will continue to burn for minutes after the burn source has been removed, causing more damage. Allow several minutes of the skin to cool. If there is pain when skin is removed from the water (or compresses), continue the cooling process. When the burn is cool, remove all clothing from the area. Do not remove clothing that is sticking to the burn.

Next, loosely cover the burned area with dry sterile dressings (if available). Covering the burn keeps out air and helps reduce pain. The bandaging should not put pressure on the burn surface. If a large part of the body is burned, cover the dressings with another cloth. Covering the burn helps to reduce pain by covering up exposed nerve surfaces. Covering also helps to prevent infection. Deep burns can cause shock from the intense pain and dehydration. Thus, lay the victim down (unless the/she has difficulty breathing). Raise the burned areas above heart level, if possible. As burn victims have a tendency to become chilled, help him/her maintain normal body heat by keeping him/her out of drafts.

Treatment Do Nots:
People have typically treated burns with ice and oil. However, do not use these! Ice of ice water causes loss of body heat and further damages the skin and underlying tissues. Likewise, do not put oil, butter or ointments on blisters or deep burns because these items seal in the heat, do not relieve pain very well. Another do not: do not break open blisters because it makes the skin more prone to infection.

Offered by Lyn.