Burns- Types and Treatments
Burns - Types and Treatments

Burns are damaged tissues due to fire/ heat, hot liquids, chemicals, steam, radiation, electricity, or sunlight. Burns due to various accidents are more common than they appear. While minor burns can be treated at home, major burns have to be treated by doctors to ensure proper healing. 

Levels of Burns

Burns are usually classified into three levels or intensities such as –

  • First Degree
    First-degree burns are minor and cause minimum skin damage. They affect the top layer of the skin and heal in a week or two. In most instances, minor burns don’t cause scars. There may be discolouring, which will fade in a couple of months. Light swelling, inflammation, tolerable pain, and dry peeling skin during the healing period are some signs of first-degree burns. If the burns cover a larger surface area, it is recommended to see a doctor. Topical applications will be prescribed to accelerate healing and prevent infection. 
  • Second Degree
    Second-degree burns are serious as they cause more damage and affect the dermis (inner layers) of the skin. These cause blistering and turn the skin red, sore, and painful. The blisters will be filled with water-like liquid and should not be popped open. Second-degree burns are delicate and have to be treated to prevent infections and excessive pain. They also take more time to heal (three to five weeks), depending on the extent of the area affected. While these burns may not cause scarring, they cause uneven pigmentation, which will eventually fade. Consult a doctor to treat second-degree burns. 
  • Third Degree
    Third-degree burns are major and highly severe. They penetrate deep and damage the tissues, muscles, and nerves in the affected area. There won’t be any pain or sensation in the area since the nerves will also be destroyed, and the brain won’t get signals. Third-degree burns take months to heal and leave deep scars. The skin looks wrinkled, waxy, charred, and has a leathery texture. Since the hair follicles will also be damaged, the scars will not have hair strands. These burns cannot be treated at home and need immediate medical attention. 
  • Complications of Burns
    A person of any age, gender, race, etc., can end up with burns. Accidents or deliberate attempts lead to burns and damaged skin tissues. While first-degree burns don’t cause complications (unless you are careless), second and third-degree burns can result in the following complications.
  • Infections 
  • Blood loss 
  • Sepsis (tetanus) 
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature) 
  • Hypovolemia (lower blood volume)
  • Shock
  • Dehydration
  • Arrhythmia (disturbance in heart rhythm)
  • Edema (swelling in tissues)
  • Pneumonia 
  • Organ failure 
  • Disfigurement

The sooner you provide medical attention to the patient, the lesser the risk of complications. Doctors treat the physical wounds while also minimizing the emotional impact. However, it may take a while for the patients to feel ‘normal’.

Treating Burns

Minor Burns

For minor or first-degree burns, follow the below steps:

  1. Hold the affected area under running cool water (do not put ice or cold water on the burn) for ten minutes.
  2. Remove items like jewellery, clothes, etc., near the burnt area. Do this before the swelling sets in.
  3. If the skin blisters, do not touch it or prick it. If the blister breaks on its own, gently clean the liquid and apply an antiseptic ointment.
  4. Once the burn cools, apply a hydrating lotion like aloe vera to prevent drying. This also provides relief from pain. 
  5. Wrap clean gauze on the burn to prevent contamination. However, keep the bandage loose. 
  6. Take a painkiller if required (in moderation). 

Moderate Burns 
These are second-degree burns and are treated similar to the first-degree burns. Be extra careful with blisters. If the burns occur on the face, chest, knees, arms, torso, neck, etc., it is safer to get treated by a doctor. You may also have to take a tetanus injection. The doctor will prescribe a strong antibiotic ointment to kill the bacteria and reduce swelling. 

Major Burns 
Major burns are third-degree and considered an emergency. Do the following before medical help arrives:

  1. Protect the person from more burns by taking them away from the source of the burn. 
  2. If clothes are stuck to the burn, leave them be. Don’t touch or try to remove clothes sticking to the burnt area. 
  3. Burned areas swell fast, so remove the jewellery and other tight items. Cut them out if you can’t remove them naturally. 
  4. Use a clean cloth or gauze to cover the burns to prevent air and bacteria from seeping into the affected area. 
  5. Elevate the burned area above the heart level if possible. However, don’t jolt or move the person too much. It could trigger blood loss. 
  6. Keep calm and continue talking to the person. Please do your best to assure them. This can reduce the risk of shock settling in. If the person is already in shock, monitor their breathing and pulse rate. 

Handover the treatment to experts and follow the doctor’s instructions for post-treatment care. The scars cannot be treated until the burns are completely healed.

Preventing Burns 

While it is not possible to avoid accidents and burns, you can prevent them by being more alert and acting fast. A few tips that one can follow to prevent burns:

  • Keep kids away from fire/ heat appliances and the kitchen.
  • Have fire safety systems installed at home and office.
  • Check for broken or frayed electric cords and exposed wires.
  • Keep chemicals in a safe place and wear gloves (and eyewear) when handling them.
  • Wear sunscreen every day to prevent sunburn. 
  • Snub out smoking and fire-causing products before leaving them in the open or disposing of them.

People with third-degree burns may need surgeries, physical therapy, and lifelong assistance. Act fast to reduce the risk of damage.

To get assistance related to burns or to receive effective treatment, one can contact our advanced clinic, Mehektagul Dermaclinic, for burn treatments and therapies. Book a consultation now.


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