This article is about first aid for burn injuries. It briefly discusses the different classifications of burn injuries ranging for first degree to sixth degree burns. A few first aid tips were listed for both minor and major burns. In case bystanders don’t know how to go about caring for burn victims, call emergency medical services for further assistance.
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By definition, a burn may be an injury caused by heat, cold, electricity, chemicals, friction, or radiation. In a recent study done in the United States, approximately 2.4 million burn injuries are reported each year. And surprisingly, around eight thousand to twelve thousand burn victims die, and close to one million patients will sustain substantial or permanent disability secondary to their burn injury. Burn injuries cut a close second place to motor-vehicle accidents as one of the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States.
There are different classifications on the gravity of a burn. This depends on the how much and how deep a damage it has incurred onto the victim. These classifications are:
l First degree burns. Its effects are usually limited to redness, a white plaque, and minor pain on the affected site. It usually affects only the epidermis, or the top part of the skin.
l Second degree burns. Aside from the usual effects of first degree burns, superficial blisters filled with clear fluid may form. This may also cause moderate pain depending on the level of nerve damage. This type of burn may involve the superficial and deep dermis layer.
l Third degree burns. This kind of burn additionally has charring of the burnt skin. The charred part may produce hard, leather-like eschars. Eschars are dead tissues that has separated from the skin surface. The eschars often produce a purple fluid. These types of pain are usually painless, as the burn has damaged the nerve endings surrounding the affected area. Hair follicles and sweat glands may be lost due to the deep effect of third degree burns.
l Fourth degree burns. In this type of burn, most if not the entire dermis is lost. Because of this, underlying muscles and bones are exposed and eventually burned as well. These type of burns cause irreversible damage to the skin.
l Fifth degree burns. It additionally has charring or burning away of muscles, leaving bones exposed. In this type of burn, muscles are roast thoroughly, to the point of immobility, and bones may get burned.
l Sixth degree burns. This type of burn leaves no muscle tissue unaffected. All muscle tissues in the affected area is burned away, exposing charred bone. This is the highest among the six burn categories.
First degree burns, also called low-grade burns are easy to remedy and prevent. Among the most common first degree burn causes are: sunburn, friction burn, chemical burn, scalding, and coldburn. Minor burns may cause swelling, blistering, and scarring. For more severe cases it may cause shock and even death. Severe burns may also lead to infections as the body’s protective barrier from environmental pollutants is damaged. For any burn injury, immediate burn pain relief is the first thing that comes to mind. This includes cleaning the burn wound, protecting it from developing infection, etc. Here are a few first aid tips for burn pain relief:
For minor burns ranging from first to second degree burns:
l Cool the burn. Hold the injured area under cool, running water for a minimum of five minutes, or until the pain subsides. If you cannot stand the impact of running water on the wound, immerse the wound in cool water or cool it with a cold compress. This helps reduce the swelling of the burn wound and provides temporary burn pain relief.
l Cover the wound with a sterilized gauze bandage. Wrap the gauze loosely around the wound to prevent putting pressure on the burned skin.
l Taking over-the counter pain relievers. Medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen may help bring temporary burn pain relief.
l Do not remove burnt clothing.
For major burns ranging from third to sixth degree burns:
l Do not immerse severely large burns in cold water as this may cause the victim to go into shock.
l Cover the burn area with sterile, non-stick bandage. This is to ensure that the burnt area does not get further infected.
Burns are not simple injuries that can be ignored. Burn wounds should not be taken for granted. These wounds may become breeding ground for infection if not cared for properly. If unsure of how to go about with burn accidents, it is best to call emergency medical service for assistance.