The skin is the largest organ in the body. As living tissue, when it is exposed to heat higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, damage occurs to the cells. Each year approximately 2 million people seek medical attention for burns.

Treating Minor Burns

  • Cool the burn with cold water. 
  • Apply a cold-water compress.
  • Cover with a sterile gauze bandage. 
  • If the burn blisters, don't pop the blister. Fluid protects against infection. 
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to relieve discomfort and swelling. 

Treating Major Burns

  • If a person's skin or clothing is on fire, make him drop to the ground and roll over and over until the flames are extinguished. You may also use a cotton blanket, towel or carpet to smother the flames. 
  • If there is a burn source that can be safely eliminated, such as electrical current, turn it off. 
  • Ensure that you and the victim are not in further danger.
  • Call for emergency assistance. 
  • Check to see if the victim is breathing and if there is a pulse. 
  • If there are no open wounds, cool the burn with water, not ice. Use cold cloth compresses on burns to hands, feet and face.
  • Do not apply creams, butter, toothpaste, ointment, antiseptic sprays or other such products on the burn. These can cause infection. 
  • Don't remove clothing, even if it's burned, but try to be sure the victim is not near smoke or heat. 

Chemical Burns

Burns may be caused by chemicals in the home, at work or school.

  • Remove the chemical that caused the burn, trying not to come in direct with it. If the chemical is a powder, brush it from the skin before using water. 
  • Call for emergency help: 
    - If the victim is unconscious,
    - If the victim is having seizures or difficulty breathing,
    - If the burn is in eyes, or on hands, feet, face, groin or over a major joint.
  • Remove clothing and jewelry exposed to the spilled chemical.
  • Flush the affected area with cool, running water for 15-30 minutes.
  • Use moist compresses to help relieve pain.
  • Protect the burned area by covering it with a clean cloth.
  • If chemicals get into a victim's eyes, flush them immediately with running water for at least 20 minutes. Get medical assistance immediately.

Electrical Burns

All electrical burns should be evaluated by a physician. The burn may appear to be minor, but may extend deep into the tissue or affect other systems such as the heart.

 Classifications of Burns

  • FIRST DEGREE BURNS - First degree burns, though painful, are not serious burns. Only the top layer of the skin is affected. These types of burns cause reddening of the skin and heal quickly.
  • SECOND DEGREE BURNS - Second degree burns cause damage deeper into the skin and result in blisters. Unless the damage is quite extensive, these burns usually heal without scarring.
  • THIRD DEGREE BURNS - Third degree burns destroy all the layers of skin. The area of the burn is white or charred. Bone and muscle tissue may also be exposed if the burn is deep enough. These types of injuries need to be treated by a specialist and require skin grafts to prevent scarring.

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