Burns – what we need to know
Burns can be different types, generally divided into two categories. The first one is according to the cause of the burn, the second one is according to the damage that has occurred.
Determining the cause is important for both first aid and subsequent treatment. There are, for example, peculiarities in the neutralization of certain substances – acids and alkalis that cause burning.
In case of electric shock, there are injuries to various internal organs, for the establishment of which are needed specialized tests. In addition, the person providing first aid after an electric shock should be careful when removing the source – for example a cable – that they themselves are not struck by the electricity. This can happen if you join the chain.
In the classification according to the cause, the burns are thermal – from the high temperature of a fire or a heated object or surface; chemical – e.g. acids such as sulphuric, nitric, hydrochloric; caused by electricity – sockets, cables, lightning; caused by radiation – solar, sunbed or X-ray radiation, etc.
Depending on the injuries received in depth, burns are divided into four degrees. The affected area is also important – in some cases, a shallow burn can cause problems for the whole organism if a large part of the body is covered.
In first degree burns the upper layer of the skin (the epidermis) is damaged. The spot is red, it swells, and after the first days the surface layer begins to peel off and falls in about a week.
The problem goes away without serious or lasting effects on the body and only in the beginning the person could suffer from high fever. This happens, for example, in case of scalding, as well as in most cases of sunburn which can, however, be more serious.
The second degree burning is deeper and affects the next skin layer – the dermis. In addition to the symptoms characteristic of the first degree, blisters containing liquid are also formed. In the mildest case of the third degree burns some tissues are destroyed but the hair roots, oil and sweat glands are preserved and the skin can recover.
In the rest of the cases the skin is completely destroyed and skin grafting is required. In the fourth degree, not only the skin, but also the muscles, tendons and bones are carbonized.
What can be done right away
Even in the case of minor burns, it is good for people to consult a doctor because they can make mistakes in their first reactions and complicate their situation. If the burn is more severe, you should immediately call a specialist and not take any action on your own treating the injured spot.
However, there are a number of cases of milder burns that are painful but do not require urgent medical intervention – say sunburn on the beach. For these, there are tested and simple ways to relieve your condition on your own and to help your body cope.
Cooling and pain relief can be achieved by placing pieces of some type of fruits and vegetables, such as apple and cucumber, or juice from them, on the spot for about thirty minutes. Aloe juice is also useful – it is applied several times a day, it acts against the burning feeling and redness. Applying some corn starch also helps to relieve the pain, as well as a compress with a potato puree put in gauze.
There are also a number of cooling oils that act as pain relievers and against inflammation – lavender, sandalwood, coconut, eucalyptus and rosehip.
A 5-minute lukewarm bath with bicarbonate can be applied on the burnt spot. The place is not wiped but left to dry. Another way is to apply lukewarm water and oat bran that will soften the skin.
After soaking, the spot is also not wiped dry. It is also possible to put the damaged surface under running water for 10 minutes. In order to cool down the burnt spot, you can apply a cool compress with a wet and soft towel by adding some bicarbonate to the water.