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How to Treat a Burn Injury

Learn how to treat a burn injury correctly.

Despite your best efforts, you or a loved one may still suffer a burn injury. If such an accident happens, properly treating the burn is essential to preventing further damage and relieving the pain as soon as possible. The following information can help you correctly treat a burn injury.

Determine the degree of the burn injury

Burns are categorized by degrees: first, second and third. First and second generally appear as blistering, red skin, while third-degree burns may leave the region black or charred white. Once you’ve determined the severity of the burn, you can prepare your treatment method.

Treating minor burns

If the victim has suffered a minor burn – first or second degree – start treatment by holding the damaged area under cool, running water for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also place the burned area in standing cool water—just never apply ice, as the temperature difference could cause the burn to worsen.

Upon removing the area from the water, apply a sterilized gauze bandage. It’s important to use gauze and not cotton or any other material that will leave lint in the wound. Do not apply any ointments, as they can infect the area. Instead, keep the gauze nice and tight and offer pain medication like aspirin to help ease the victim’s pain.

Treating severe burns

If the victim has suffered a third-degree burn, call 911 immediately. Then, while you wait for help, make sure the victim is still breathing and apply CPR if they aren’t. Do not attempt to remove burned clothing or to apply cold water to the damaged area—this will only worsen the situation. Instead, cover the damaged region with a moist towel and elevate the damaged area above the heart if possible.

Burns–and burn injuries–are an unfortunate fact of life. But by knowing how to avoid and treat burns, you’ll help keep yourself and others safe.