Burns (cont.)

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First aid for burns

For major burns (second and third degree burns)

  1. Remove the victim from the burning area, remembering not to put the rescuer in danger.
  2. Remove any burning material from the patient.
  3. Call 911 or activate the emergency response system in your area if needed.
  4. Once the victim is in a safe place, keep them warm and still. Try to wrap the injured areas in a clean sheet if available. DO NOT use cold water on the victim; this may drop the body temperature and cause hypothermia.

Burns of the face, hands, and feet should always be considered a significant injury (although this may exclude sunburn.

For minor burns (first degree burns or second degree burns involving a small area of the body)

  • Gently clean the wound with lukewarm water.
  • Though butter has been used as a home remedy, it should NOT be used on any burn.
  • Rings, bracelets, and other potentially constricting articles should be removed (edema, or swelling from inflammation may occur and the item may cut into the skin).
  • The burn may be dressed with a topical antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin or Neosporin. Silvadene (silver sulfadiazine) topical is the preferred agent for most burns, and is available over the counter in many locations.
  • If there is concern that the burn is deeper and may be second or third degree in nature, medical care should be accessed.
  • Tetanus immunization should be updated if needed.

For electrical burns

Victims of electrical burns should always seek medical care.

For chemical burns

  1. Identify the chemical that was involved.
  2. Contact the Poison Control Center in your area or your local hospital's Emergency Department. The United States National Poison Hotline is 1-800-222-1222. You will be automatically linked to the nearest poison control center. Many chemical burns may be treated with local wound care. Some chemicals can cause life- and limb-threatening injuries and need emergent intervention. It is recommended that the hotline phone number be stored on your cell phone as well as posted at home and at the workplace.
  3. Victims with chemical burns to their eyes should always seek emergency care.

Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American Board of Surgery
"First aid and treatment of minor burns" National Institutes of Health

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/20/2015

First Aid Pictures Slideshow: Caring for Wounds

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Burns (First Aid) - Experience Question: What type of burn did you experience?
Burns - Treatment Question: What kind of treatment did you receive for your burn? What part or how much of your body was affected?
Electrical Burns - Experience Question: Have you or someone you know suffered an electrical shock and/or burns? Please describe your experience.
Chemical Burns - Experience Question: Did you suffer a chemical burn? Please describe what happened.