How to Treat Bad Skin Burns

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Burns are very painful, but they respond well to first aid treatments you can do at home. The first step is to determine what type of burn you have. A first-degree burn is red with some pain and swelling. A second-degree burn will have some blistering, the skin will have a blotchy red appearance and the pain and swelling is worse. Third-degree burns need to be treated by a health care professional and the skin area may be charred and black in color, or white with dry areas.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean bandages
  • Analgesics

Assess the degree of the burn. If a second-degree burn is larger than three inches or if it is a third-degree burn a doctor should treat the wound.

Cool the burn by holding the area under a faucet with cool, running water for at least five minutes; this will help with the pain. If this is not practical, submerge the area in cool water, apply a cool, wet, clean towel, or compress, according to the MayoClinic.com website. (see reference 1)

Bandage the area with gauze or other clean bandage material. Do not use a cotton ball as this may irritate the skin. Cover the area loosely; this will keep air away from the burned skin and protect any blisters on the skin from breaking.

Take an analgesic such as acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen. The burn should heal on its own but be careful to keep it covered for a few days to protect the fragile area.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use sunscreen to protect the burned area for at least a year to prevent further pigment damage.
  • Never put ice directly on the burn, this could cause frostbite and further damage to your skin.
  • Do not pop a blister; this could cause an infection.
  • Do not use butter, ointments or margarine on the skin, this may prevent effective healing and infect the area.
  • Third-degree burns may be painless but they definitely need to be treated by a doctor. If proper care is not administered, further damage to the skin, muscle and other tissue could be affected. These type burns are very susceptible to infection.

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