The skin is the largest organ of the body, with many functions including regulating the body temperature and acting as a barrier between the environment and the body. With many external factors in the environment, the skin is the easiest organ to injure in the body.
Most people love going to the beach to swim or get a golden tan under the sun. Oftentimes, people have too much fun that they forget to put on their sunblock. Sometimes, the consequence is red and painful sunburned skin. Other times, people using a curling iron may become careless and end up leaving a red and painful injured finger or face. Both these scenarios are examples of heat or thermal burns.
Most burns are considered minor injuries which usually occur at home or at work. There are classifications of burns, but the severity depends on the skin layers affected, such as if they affected the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Although most burns are considered mild, there are a number that are severe and extremely painful. For mild burns, these can be easily treated at home.
Heat burns are usually caused by steam, fire, hot objects and hot liquids. The commonest burns that occur to children and older adults are scald burns from hot liquids. The symptoms of burns and scalds will differ depending on the seriousness of the burn. Some symptoms include blisters, swelling, red skin, peeling skin, white or charred skin. It must be noted that the amount of pain felt does not correlate to the seriousness of the burn.
For a minor thermal burn, put the affected area under cold running water for at least 10 minutes or until the pain subsides. Never put ice. Remove any clothing or jewelry on the affected area (unless stuck to the skin) and cover the burn. To cover the burn, use clean-non-fluffy material to avoid infection. A piece of cloth, clean plastic bag or kitchen film can be used as dressing. If the size of the minor burn is bigger than a postage stamp, it should be treated for medical attention. Although it is a common myth, neither toothpaste nor any greasy materials should be applied on the burns or scalds as these materials may lead to trapping the heat and causing further injury.
If the thermal burn is considered severe, start by cooling the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes. Do not apply ice. Call for emergency medical services. Lay the casualty down or any position that is most comfortable to them. Continue to pour plentiful amounts of water until pain is relieved. If possible, wear gloves to prevent infection. Remove jewelries unless stuck to the skin. Using the same procedure as mentioned above, cover the burn. If there are symptoms of shock, treat for shock.
If the clothing is on fire, immediately tell the victim to stop
running or panicking because any movement or breeze will fan the flames. Drop the victim to the ground. If it is possible, tightly wrap the victim in a coat, curtain or blanket, which is not made of nylon or of cellular type, rug or any other heave-duty fabric. If wool fabric is present, use this. Roll the victim along the ground until the flames have died out.
Treating burn victims is not easy. First aid classes are offered to teach the lay public how to properly treat victims of these kinds of injuries and many more.