First Aid Basics: How to Treat Burns at Home


Burns are common injuries that can occur at home due to various causes, such as hot surfaces, boiling water, or contact with flames. Knowing how to provide immediate first aid for burns is essential to minimize pain, prevent infection, and promote healing. In this guide, we will cover the basic steps to treat minor burns at home using simple first aid techniques.

I. Assess the Burn

1. Determine the Severity: Assess the burn to determine its severity. Burns are categorized into three levels: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree.

2. First-Degree Burns: These are superficial burns that affect only the outermost layer of the skin, causing redness and mild pain.

3. Second-Degree Burns: These burns involve both the outer layer and the underlying skin, causing redness, blistering, and more intense pain.

4. Third-Degree Burns: These are severe burns that penetrate through all layers of the skin, resulting in a white or charred appearance and significant pain or numbness.

II. First Aid for First-Degree and Second-Degree Burns

1. Cool the Burn: Immediately after the burn occurs, run cool (not cold) water over the affected area for about 10-20 minutes to help reduce pain and prevent further damage. Avoid using ice as it may worsen the injury.

2. Gently Clean the Burn: Clean the burn with mild soap and water, pat it dry with a clean cloth, and avoid scrubbing.

3. Apply an Ointment: Consider applying an over-the-counter burn ointment or aloe vera gel to soothe the burn and protect the skin.

4. Cover the Burn: Use a sterile non-stick bandage or gauze to cover the burn and protect it from friction and infection.

5. Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be taken to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

6. Avoid Popping Blisters: If blisters form, do not pop them, as it may lead to infection.

III. First Aid for Third-Degree Burns

1. Seek Medical Attention: Third-degree burns are severe and require immediate medical attention. Call emergency services or seek medical help right away.

2. Do Not Apply Cold Water: Avoid running cold water over third-degree burns as it may cause shock.

3. Protect the Area: Cover the burn with a clean, dry, non-stick bandage or cloth until medical help arrives.

IV. When to Seek Medical Attention

1. Large or Deep Burns: Seek medical help for burns that are larger than three inches in diameter or involve the face, hands, feet, genitals, or major joints.

2. Chemical or Electrical Burns: Burns caused by chemicals or electricity require immediate medical attention.

3. Inhalation Injuries: If the burn is caused by inhaling smoke or hot air, seek medical help promptly.

4. Signs of Infection: If the burn becomes red, swollen, or starts oozing pus, it may be infected, and medical attention is needed.

V. Conclusion

Knowing how to provide first aid for burns at home is crucial for immediate care and to promote proper healing. Treating first-degree and second-degree burns with cool water, gentle cleaning, ointments, and bandaging can help relieve pain and protect the injured area. However, for third-degree burns and burns with specific characteristics, seeking immediate medical attention is essential. MyCPR NOW emphasizes the importance of first aid knowledge and encourages individuals to undergo basic first aid training to be better prepared for emergencies like burns and other injuries.

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