Most people are aware that burns to the skin and tissues can cause permanent scarring, often leaving people severely disfigured. With very bad burns, this is often unavoidable, but for more minor burns, scarring can be reduced by practicing appropriate first aid techniques as soon as possible after the burn has been sustained.
Immediate First Aid.Before a burn can be treated appropriately, the wound must be assessed to determine the extent of the damage and the depth of the burn. The deeper the burn, the more chance the victim will begin to suffer from shock. It is also important to determine the cause of the burn as this may influence the treatment given.
Scalds And Superficial Burns.The priority when treating minor burns and scalds is too cool the area aiming to reduce redness, swelling and any chance of permanent skin damage. If the person who has been burnt is conscious and talking, the wound can be cooled using cold running water, or by applying an ice-pack to the area. Do not apply ice directly to the skin, always ensure the ice is wrapped in a suitable protective covering such as a towel.
Deeper Burns.Call for help. Make sure the environment is safe for you to enter, for example away from the source of the fire or any potentially explosive materials.Try and move the casualty to a safe place.For deeper burns it is important to ensure the person's airway is clear and that they are breathing. If the airway has been burnt, ensure that any restrictive clothing is removed and reassure the person that help is on the way.Lay the injured person on the floor being careful not to allow the damaged area to touch the floor if able. Cool the wound using cold clean fluids always checking that the casualty is conscious and breathing.
Do not over cool the whole person as this can cause further shock and can be dangerous.Never be tempted to apply any substances to the wounds, it should remain free from contact with anything other than a plastic covering which can help to reduce the amounts of fluids lost through the wound and protect against infection.If able, remove any metallic objects and restrictive clothing in case of swelling, being careful not to touch the wound. Never remove items that are adhered to the skin where the burn has occurred. This can introduce infection and cause further long term scarring.
As The Wound Is Healing.Never be tempted to touch the wound or pick at any dead skin that may be shedding. Always keep the wound clean and avoid allowing it coming into contact with any surfaces.As the wound is healing it may feel itchy. Do not be tempted to scratch the area and take anti-histamine medications if necessary and advised by the nurse or doctor.When bathing protect the wound with a plastic covering until advised it is safe to submerge in the bath.
Long Term Care.Several creams and lotions claim to reduce scarring and those containing vitamin E seem to be the most useful. Only apply these creams after the skin has healed and there are no open areas to the wound.Scars will fade over time, but should be protected from direct sunlight
Burns and scalds can cause long term damage and scarring to the skin, sometimes this cannot be prevented but may be lessened in severity if correct first aid precautions are taken.