Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hot Burns in the Summer Sun

     Summer is heating up, and so can your skin. Picture an intoxicated adult backing into a burning metal fire pit, a youngster wielding a flaming marshmallow, a teenager sunning at the pool for too many hours—the season is ripe for summertime skin burns.

     Burns come in degrees: first, second, third, and fourth. With a first-degree burn, the skin is red and you’ll notice some pain and swelling at the burn site. When the first and second layers of the skin (dermis) are burned, causing blistering, redness and swelling, it’s classified as a second-degree burn. Third-degree burns are very serious—potentially affecting all layers of the skin. A fourth-degree burn goes deep as the fat, muscle, and even bone. You’ll see white, leathery, blackened, or charred skin. The skin may be numb to the touch because of nerve damage.

How to Treat Minor First-degree Burns
  • If the skin is unbroken, run cool water (not ice water) over the skin and apply a cold cloth. 
  • Cover the burn with a sterile bandage. 
  • Take ibuprofen for pain and swelling. 
  • For sunburn, take ibuprofen for pain, keep your skin moisturized with lotion, and apply a cold compress. 
Be sure to keep an eye on any burns—they can get worse overnight. Think of sunburn that goes from red to blistering.

How to Treat Second-degree Burns
Most second-degree burns can be treated at Meritus Health’s Urgent Care, however location and size matter.
  • Look at the location of the burn on the body. Burns around the face, neck, and chest can cause breathing problems and should be treated in the emergency department. Burns to the feet and genitals also require a trip to the emergency department. 
  • Check for the extent of the burn on the body. A burn area larger than the size of your hand is serious and should be treated in the emergency department. 
How to Treat Third-degree and Fourth-degree Burns
For major burns, call 911 immediately. Before help arrives, follow these guidelines:
  • Make sure the person is breathing. If there’s no sign of breathing, start performing CPR. [link to CPR blog] 
  • Remove any smoldering clothing, but NOT any material stuck to the skin. 
  • Cover the burned area with sterile bandages or a clean sheet. Do not apply first-aid ointment and avoid breaking any blisters. 
  • Raise the burned body part to above heart level and keep the burned area clear of friction. 

By: Anne Gill

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