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First Aid for Burns: First, Second and Third Degree BurnsEVAC Stretcher

There are three different classifications of burns, the least severe being a first degree burn and the most sever being a third degree burn. Each type of burn requires a different set of first aid instructions. This guide will help you determine the severity of the burn and the best course of action.

First Aid Items You’ll Need for Burns:

  • Cool running water (make sure to always have sanitary water available)
  • Sterile gauze bandage
  • Over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Sterile, moist towel or cloth

Another option is to buy a first aid kit that come stocked with gauze and a ice pack!

First Aid For BurnsFirst Degree Burns

First degree burns are the least serious type of burn and require little medical attention, if any. First degree burns damage only the outer layer of skin and usually appear red. Swelling and pain may be present. Minor burns can be soothed with Sanitary cool running water (avoid using cold water or ice). Do so for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pain subsides. This will also help reduce swelling.

Cover the burn loosely with a sterile gauze bandage. Avoid cotton or any other type of material that may leave lint behind. This will help ease the pain and protect the blistered skin.

Lastly, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Watch the burn for infection and avoid tanning or reinjuring the area for the next year, otherwise you may have sever pigmentation damage.

Second Degree Burns

Second degree burns occur when the outer layer and second layer of skin are burned. With a second degree burn, blisters may develop and the skin will be intensely red with a splotchy appearance. Second degree burns will also produce severe swelling and pain.

As long as the burn covers an area less than 3 inches and is not in a sensitive area, such as the face, groin, hands or feet, you can treat it as a minor burn. Otherwise, seek medical help immediately.

Third Degree Burns

Third degree burns occur when all layers of the skin have been burned and may cause permanent tissue damage. Third degree burns will appear dry and white or charred and black. To make matters worse, third degree burn victims are also often affected by smoke inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning. That is why it is always helpful to also have face masks stocked up in case a fire does happen in your home.
Burn Unit
If you find someone who has suffered third degree burns, do not remove any of their burned clothing, unless this is necessary to remove the person from contact with smoldering materials. Avoid immersing burns in cold water, as this can cause hypothermia. Elevate the burned parts of the body and cover the area of the burn with a cool, moist, sterile bandage. You can use moist towels or a moist cloth as well. Seek immediate medical attention and consider getting a tetanus shot.

Additional Warnings

Do not apply butter or ointments to the burn, as these may actually cause infection rather than preventing it. Blisters should also not be broken, since the area becomes more susceptible to infection if there is an open wound. And again, always avoid using ice, as this causes the burn victim to become too cold and can further damage the area.