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Best ways to treat burns

Dr Oshisanya, a General Surgeon at Maitama General Hospital recently said when people have burns from kerosene, petrol and other hot items, they should pour…

Dr Oshisanya, a General Surgeon at Maitama General Hospital recently said when people have burns from kerosene, petrol and other hot items, they should pour cold water over the area, but that this advice is not always heeded as many people prefer to put pap, egg and other things over the burnt area. Oshisanya said what this does is to infect the burnt area thereby making an uninfected wound infected. “If the wound was not initially infected, if you pour all that on the epidermis (outer layer), the wound may be infected with bacteria, which will now infect the dermis (inner layer of the skin). This now affects the blood stream; this is what is called septisymia,” he said.

He, however, said if the wound is already infected, the patient will be placed on antibiotics. A burn is a damage to the skin or tissues caused by contact with an electrical current or a hot source.

Burns can be classified as First, Second, Third and Fourth degrees. First-degree burns involve only the outer layer of skin, which is the epidermis. These burns usually appear red and swollen. There is no blistering with first-degree burns. These burns usually heal within three and six days without permanent scarring.

Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and some or all of the dermis (the dermis is the layer below the epidermis.) Blistering is usually noted with second-degree burns, which are red in colour. However, a deep second-degree burn may appear white in colour and is often not painful. Second-degree burns usually heal in 10 to 21 days, but may be associated with significant scarring.

Third-degree burns destroy the entire dermis, and destroy the hair follicles and sweat glands. These burns are white and are also not painful. Third-degree burns require skin grafting to heal properly.

Fourth-degree burns occur when the injury extends to the bone and are often seen with electrical burns. Some second-degree burns and all third and fourth-degree burns require immediate medical attention.

A burn on the hands, face or genitals requires immediate medical attention.

How is a first-degree burn treated?

Cool the burn under running water for several minutes.

If you have concerns or questions about the burn site, contact your primary care physician.

How is a minor second-degree burn treated?

Submerge the burned area in cold water as soon as possible. Keep the burned area in cold water for five minutes.

Treat the area the same as first-degree burns, although your doctor may prescribe Silvadene cream (instead of Bacitracin or Neosporin).

Do not touch the burn site with dirty hands.

Monitor the site for yellow drainage or for infection. Contact your doctor if this occurs or if you have any questions or concerns.

What can be done to prevent burns?

Supervise children closely around fires, hot items and electrical outlets.

Have smoke alarms installed in your home.

Have a fire extinguisher available in your home.

Set your water heater at 120°F or less.

Teach children to stop, drop and roll.

If a person is on fire, smother the fire with a blanket or other clothing item.