Summer burns: How to tell if yours needs medical assistance

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SBurn_Degree_Diagram-1o you spent all day outside at the beach, and somewhere between the saltwater and beach volleyball, your sunscreen faded away. Now you’re as red as a lobster! How do you tell if your burns are serious dangers or mild pains? Here are some tips from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention to help you tell how bad your burn is and what you can do to ease the pain.*

*Remember: Many burns need medical assistance. In no way do these tips substitute for a doctor visit!

First-Degree Burns: First-degree burns involve the top layer of skin. Sunburn is usually a first- degree burn.

Signs:

  • Red
  • Painful to touch
  • Skin will show mild swelling

    Treatment:

  • Apply cool, wet compresses, or immerse in cool, fresh water. Continue until pain subsides.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
  • Do not apply ointments or butter to burn; these may cause infection.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications may be used to help relieve pain and reduce

    inflammation.

  • First degree burns usually heal without further treatment. However, if a first-degree burn covers a large area of the body, or the victim is an infant or elderly, seek emergency medical attention.
    Second-Degree Burns: Second-degree burns involve the first two layers of skin.

    Signs:

  • Deep reddening of the skin
  • Pain
  • Blisters
  • Glossy appearance from leaking fluid
  • Possible loss of some skin

    Treatment:

  • Immerse in fresh, cool water, or apply cool compresses. Continue for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Dry with clean cloth and cover with sterile gauze.
  • Do not break blisters.
  • Do not apply ointments or butter to burns; these may cause infection
  • Elevate burned arms or legs.
  • Take steps to prevent shock: lay the victim flat, elevate the feet about 12 inches, and cover the victim with a coat or blanket. Do not place the victim in the shock position if a head, neck, back, or leg injury is suspected, or if it makes the victim uncomfortable.
  • Further medical treatment is required. Do not attempt to treat serious burns unless you are a trained health professional.
    Third-Degree Burns: A third-degree burn penetrates the entire thickness of the skin and permanently destroys tissue.
    Signs:

    • Loss of skin layers
    • Often painless. (Pain may be caused by patches of first- and second-degree

      burns which often surround third-degree burns)

    • Skin is dry and leathery
    • Skin may appear charred or have patches that appear white, brown or black.
 

Treatment:

  • Cover burn lightly with sterile gauze or clean cloth. (Don’t use material that can leave lint on the burn).
  • Do not apply ointments or butter to burns; these may cause infection
  • Take steps to prevent shock: lay the victim flat, elevate the feet about 12 inches.
  • Have person sit up if face is burned. Watch closely for possible breathing

    problems.

  • Elevate burned area higher than the victim’s head when possible. Keep person

    warm and comfortable, and watch for signs of shock.

  • Do not place a pillow under the victim’s head if the person is lying down and

    there is an airway burn. This can close the airway.

  • Immediate medical attention is required. Do not attempt to treat serious burns

    unless you are a trained health professional.

Stay safe this summer, and remember to wear sunscreen!