The information provided below is designed as a guide for individuals to respond in emergencies, but certainly does not replace the need for adequate training by health care professionals.
The following information is designed for individuals to administer emergency treatment to first-degree or second-degree burns. First-degree burns are those that only effect the outer layer of skin, which usually becomes red and swollen, sometimes with dull pain. Second-degree burns involve the second layer of skin. With second-degree burns, blisters develop and the skin takes on a splotchy, reddened appearance. The pain and swelling is more serious. The second-degree burn can be treated as a minor burn if the affected area is fairly small (three inches or less). If the affected area is large, however, it is best to get medical treatment immediately.
Minor burns usually heal themselves, but if signs of infection occur – increased pain, fever, oozing, increased swelling – seek medical help.
Treating minor burns
- Hold the burned area under cold running water for at least five minutes, or until the pain subsides. If this isn’t possible, immerse the burn in cold water or cool it with cold compresses. Cooling the burn reduces. Do not use ice, as it can cause frostbite and further damage the skin
- Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. Don't use fluffy cotton, which may irritate the skin. Wrap the gauze loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the injury.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Advil, Aleve or Tylenol.
- Do not apply ointments to the burn. This can prevent proper healing.
- Do not break blisters, as this can leave the wound open to infection.