Treat Burns – Donegal Daily


Burns can be one of the most painful and traumatic injuries suffered by a victim. In this week’s DD First Aid, Aiden Thompson from Donegal Training Safety Solutions deals with all aspects of burns.

In most of the literature we read, they tell us how to treat the burn as if it were a simple injury, however, these texts rarely prepare us for the actual trauma the victim suffers as a result of their injuries. .

In this article, therefore, I would like to identify the different degrees of burns, the treatment of these serious injuries and the preventive measures we can take to avoid them.

Degrees of burns

We have all, at some point, burned our fingers when removing a griddle or a dish from the oven. Your natural, instinctive response is to cool the area by putting your finger in your mouth and swearing a few words or running it under cold water for a while. This is a perfectly normal response and often requires little first aid intervention.

But when we burn a large part of our body, we need to be able to treat this injury quickly and effectively. We need to know what a large area is, relative to the size of the victim, and we need to know when to seek medical advice.
When we talk about burns, we are often talking about 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns which refer to our skin layers.

A first degree burn, which burns the outer layer of the skin, will often be red, slightly swollen, and tender to the touch. A classic example of this is mild sunburn, which we can usually manage on our own with after-sun cream and by covering up and learning from our mistakes.

A second degree burn will present with blisters, the presence of blisters means that the burn is now more severe as infection can occur if a blister bursts. There are many “old wives’ tales” on how to treat these burns, but do not put ointments, gels, or other “remedies” on these burns as they may require medical attention. If this is the case, doctors will have to remove the remedy to examine the burn, which can be excruciating to the sufferer and often itself is a potential risk of infection.

A third degree burn, the more severe, will often appear waxy white due to poor blood flow to the area or will have charred edges to the burn, sometimes the victim will experience excruciating pain, and in other circumstances, she may say that she has no pain at all. It is a sign of nerve damage and all third degree burns should be taken very seriously.

When is a burn considered serious?

It depends on the depth, size and location of the burn. We now know how to recognize the degree of burns. It is now necessary to understand what is the size of a burn, proportional to the body of the victim. A simple rule of thumb is that the size of the palm of the victim’s hand is 1% of their body. 1% doesn’t really seem like a lot, but when you look at your hand size while reading this article, you will realize that it is a relatively large area. When we consider larger burns, we break down the body into areas of 9% or multiples of 9%. For example, a burn to the chest and abdomen is equivalent to 18% of the body, a burn around the entire circumference of the arm, the size of which is smaller, is 9%. A burn around the circumference of one leg is 18% per leg and the head area is also 9%. These are very serious injuries, so when I teach first aid my simple rule is this; If a victim has a second degree burn (blister burn) greater than 1%, we need to see a doctor. This burn will require pain relief, antibiotics to prevent infection, as well as professional assessment and a dressing to reduce the effect of the injury.

There are also some areas of the body that we don’t want to burn if possible.

These include:

1. The palms of the hands and the soul of our feet. These very sensitive areas are used daily by the victim and the recovery from these injuries can be very long and difficult requiring physiotherapy and multiple surgeries and skin grafts.
2. The neck or face. When we burn, we inflate. We don’t want the airways to potentially swell and close, causing another major emergency, breathing problems.
3. The groin or perineum. This is where we get rid of waste from our body, defecate, urinate, procreate and give birth from this area. If we suffer from a severe burn in this area, it can affect us for life, leading to the use of colostomy bags and alternative delivery methods.
4. The respiratory tract. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we can rescue or recover a victim from a burning building or car. We might see traces of soot or charring around their nose or mouth, then realize that they inhaled hot gases that burned their airways inside. These sufferers may seem fine at first, but begin to show signs of difficulty breathing as their airways are affected. Any internal burns, or risk of internal burns, are serious and should be examined by a professional physician.
If you suspect that a child is scalded with boiling water or soup, for example, they often burn their chest, legs, groin, and feet. Add to that the fact that they often wear diapers designed to absorb liquids. It is not difficult to conclude that these can be very serious injuries that require immediate first aid while we wait for help to arrive.

So how do you treat burns?

As with all other emergencies, our priority is to make sure we are safe first. If you run into a kitchen and slip on wet floors, you may be seriously injured when sliding on a wet surface and not be able to provide first aid effectively. We need to cool the burned area by placing it under cold running water as soon as possible. It sounds simple enough, but in reality, the burn victim often tries to withdraw from the water because of the immense pain they are in. As cruel as it may sound, we must restrain the victim and continue to cool the burn. If it is a big burn, we need to put the victim in the shower or the bath, but do not forget to put your shower in the cold.

If we can, we remove any clothing that might be saturated by cutting it off from the body. Never remove clothing from the skin, many modern clothing is synthetic and reacts to heat and can melt into the skin. Instead, cut off any affected clothing and if there is an affected area, cut around and let the medical team take care of it in the hospital. If the victim is wearing jewelry, remove it if possible as the burned area will swell and could cause a problem with the blood supply. We cool the area for at least ten minutes or until the pain has subsided.

It is very important to note that if you are alone and an accident occurs, first treat the burn and then activate the emergency services. If, however, more than one adult is present, one treats the injury while the second calls for help. With serious injuries, whatever the cause, the sooner we call for help, the better.

What should we do after cooling down the burn?

In an ideal world, we would have appropriate medicated burn dressings that can prevent infection from causing complications and are designed to cool the burn as they are wrapped in foil and stored in a refrigerator, which makes them cool. makes it cold and soothing. We can buy them at our local pharmacy or online.

If you don’t have one, stretch wrap is a great burn dressing because it doesn’t react to heat and traps fluid that can escape from a burst blister. Be careful not to wrap the stretch wrap around a burnt area, as swelling can become a problem.

As strange as it may sound, we also need to keep the victim warm as they will be in shock from the injury. Place a coat or blanket over the victim after treating and dressing the wound, and while we wait for emergency services to arrive. If at any time the victim complains of pain, simply place the injured area back under cold running water. Remember that when we call for help, always put your phone on the speakerphone and follow the advice of the operator who can keep us focused and calm in an emergency.

Chemical burns
There are so many different chemicals in our homes and in our workplace that there is no easy answer to a chemical burn, we need professional medical advice. Like a burn, we need to irrigate the wound, but since the skin is porous and can absorb the chemical, we irrigate it for at least 20 minutes. All chemical burns are serious regardless of size or location, so medical advice is encouraged. If a chemical burns the eye, be sure to irrigate the injured eye in a basin or sink. Do not irrigate an injured eye and allow water to enter a healthy eye, causing further damage. A chemical can scar the face as well, which we don’t want if we can avoid it.

Prevention is better than cure

As always, when it comes to injuries and accidents, prevention is better than cure. Make your home as safe as possible for children and be mindful of your child’s ability to climb and access cabinets and presses. Be sure to use a firewall and stair guard. Keep the handles of all pots and pans away from the rim of stoves, make sure they are turned inward to prevent a child from being tempted to stand up for support, and do not allow flexing of the kettles or irons hang over the edges of kitchen surfaces. Chemicals such as dishwasher tablets, bleach, or cleaning products should be stored safely, out of the reach of your children, and always in their original container.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and feel free to contact me anytime to discuss your concerns or to book a first aid course with me.

In next week’s article, we’ll discuss the poisoning and what action we can take if we suspect it has happened.

Aiden thompson

Aiden Thompson is a PHECC registered paramedic

and former search and rescue winch with the Irish Coast Guard helicopter, R118, based in Sligo. As a registered PHECC First Aid Instructor and Irish Heart Foundation Training Site Coordinator, Aiden provides the highest level of training to members of the public.

If you would like more information on the courses available in your area, please contact Aiden on 0863111661 or visit their website www.dsts.ie for more details.

DD First Aid: Treat burns was last modified: October 9, 2021 through Editor-in-chief


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