Burn Wound Care

By Carin Mangimeli

You touched a warm pan with your finger and now you feel as if your whole hand is on fire!! But what to do?

The first thing is to remove the heat source from the burned area. Sometimes this already done instinctively, such as removing your hand from a hot water stream, but sometimes this involves removing clothing, leaving an area or entering a structure.

After the heat has been removed, the burned flesh must be cooled immediately. The easiest way to do this is by submerging the flesh in cool, running water. Putting the entire body into a cold bath or body of water can be used with large burns, but care should be made to ensure the victim doesn’t drown or become hypothermic. The area may also be cooled with non-fluffy, clean towels or linens soaked in cold water. These towels should not be removed, but layers of additional linens can be added to continue cooling the area.

Once the flesh has been cooled, cover the burned area with a non-porous or non-stick bandage but do NOT put any ointment, butter, petroleum jelly, or anything else on the burn. It should be covered dry, cool and clean. The bandage should be changed daily, if not more often, as burns are prone to infection. Any blisters that appear should be left alone. If the wound is contaminated, flush it with cool water and a non-abrasive disinfectant as soon as possible and replace the bandage with a clean one.

After the immediate burn has been treated, make plans to seek medical advice and have the wound treated by a medical professional as soon as possible to ensure that the burn does not become infected. The doctor may also be able to prescribe some topical ointment to keep the burn moist to ease scarring, an antibiotic to ward off in infection and a medication to ease the pain. If no prescription is needed or given, sufferers can combat the pain and swelling with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carin Mangimeli