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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Injuries and Wounds > Burns: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Injuries and Safety


Burns | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the injury?

First aid can often be given by the average person when someone has just been burned. It is important to contact the emergency medical system, or EMS, if the burn is extensive or severe. EMS should also be contacted if the person shows signs of shock or has burns to the airway or lungs. First aid can be divided into aid for major and minor burns.

First aid steps for minor burns are as follows:

  • Cover the burned area with cool water, but not ice water, for about 5 minutes.
  • Try to reassure and calm the person. Burns can be extremely painful and can cause a lot of anxiety.
  • Cover the area with a bandage after soaking it for several minutes. Use only clean cloths, and try to avoid contaminating the wound.
  • Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may be given.
  • A tetanus shot should be given for burns if it has been more than 10 years since the person last had one.
  • Very minor burns usually heal without any more treatment or follow-up with a healthcare provider. If the burn appears to be more severe, such as a second-degree or third-degree burn, or if it covers an area greater than 2 inches across, a person should receive medical attention. Burns of the hands, feet, face, major joints, or genitals should be treated as major burns. The person should see a healthcare provider.

    Following are first aid steps for major burns:

  • If the person is on fire, have the person stop, drop, and roll. If the person is still on fire, cover the person with a wool or cotton blanket, and douse them with water if it's available. Don't use blankets made of synthetic materials, since these can melt.
  • Try not to remove burned clothing unless it comes off very easily. Make sure that all burning material is removed from the person's skin.
  • Make sure the airway is open and the person is breathing. If necessary, begin CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • If the person is breathing and has serious burns to the fingers or toes, try to separate the digits with dry, sterile nonadhesive dressings.
  • Elevate the burned area and protect it from further burns, pressure, or injury. Take steps to prevent shock.
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    First aid treatments for burns have no significant side effects.

    What happens after treatment for the injury?

    If the burn is small and first-degree, it will usually heal on its own. More serious burns require major treatment. The goal is to regain motion and function in the burned area. Skin grafts and physical therapy may be needed.

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    Burns: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Barbara Mallari, RN, BSN, PHN
    Date Reviewed: 08/13/01

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