Almost all of us have suffered the burning sensation after accidently touching a hot utensil, being too close to fire or from acid. These burns can either result in temporary redness or may cause large blisters.
Burns are divided into three categories:
These are minor burns and involve only the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis). They cause redness of the skin with minor swelling and pain. The damaged region on the skin peels off in a couple of days and is completely healed in a matter of a week.
These are more severe than first degree, involve the entire epidermis and skin tissue beyond it. They result in superficial blisters, the skin appears very swollen. It is the most painful kind of burn and takes a couple of weeks to heal.
This kind if burns involve all layers of the skin. If they cover a large portion of the body, the victim can be severely dehydrated and it can be life threatening. Since the nerves in the skin are also damaged, these are not very painful though they are most severe and disturbing to look at. The skin appears white and charred and takes a long time to heal.
Burns are treated on the basis of these three categories. While more severe burns require medical attention, milder burns can be treated at home as the skin heals itself the best.
DON’TS OF TREATING BURNS
Whether the burn was caused by a chemical, electrocution or steam, never use ice, ice water, butter or oil. All of these can worsen the damage and can cause further reaction in case of chemical burns. If the blisters form, do not break them. As the skin heals, it has a tendency to feel itchy; in such situations, do not scratch your blisters – it delays healing and might cause scarring.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AT HOME
Here is a list of things you can use to pacify the burn.
As soon as you burn your hand or see someone else in a situation, immediately soak the burnt area in cold water (not ice water). Keep it soaked for five to ten minutes with brief breaks. Remember the first 20 minutes are crucial for blister formation and any treatment will be most effective in that time period. Follow with the Home Remedies mentioned ahead.
Aloe Vera gel at hand can be very useful. It prevents inflammation, reduces pain and swelling and enhances healing by stimulating growth. Yet another reason to plant a small aloe plant in your lawn.
Mint toothpaste is the second most effective treatment for burns. Keeping a small tube of minty toothpaste on your kitchen shelf, can keep you from sustaining burns from cooking. Once you have soaked your hand in cold water, pat it dry and apply some toothpaste.
Minor burns can be treated with vanilla extract. Dabbing vanilla extract with a cotton swab will cool the burn as the alcohol present in it evaporates and eases the pain.
Black tea is known to have tannic acid which makes burns less painful by drawing heat. It can be used in tea bag form. Used tea bags can be refrigerated and placed over the burn using gauze for cooling effects in case of emergency.
White vinegar is another burn treatment found on your kitchen shelf. Acetic acid in vinegar has anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic and anti-septic properties. This means it can prevent all complications of burn pain, inflammation and infection. A soothing compress can be made by soaking a paper towel in white vinegar and placing it over the burn.
Honey is a natural antibiotic and skin healer. It can prevent attack of bacteria on a burn as broke n skin is more susceptible to bacterial infection. It also has properties to draw heat and ease the pain.
Oats help in the healing process. It has skin soothing effects it can relive itchiness while your burn is healing. Add some oats to bathwater and soak for 20 minutes to relieve an extensive burn. For mild burns, add a few oats to a little bowl of water and splash the affected region. Air dry your skin so a thin coat of oats stays, further decreasing itching.
For more relief, add some baking soda in your bathtub. Bicarbonate of soda relieves skin inflammation.