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Burns and scalds can occur within seconds, but the pain and scar will often last a lot longer.

Following a burn, it is important that you ensure you are in a safe environment to potentially prevent any further burns from occurring. It is essential to cool the area that has been burnt or scalded with cool running water for longer than 20 minutes.

The main steps to dealing with a burn or scald are:

  • Removing the heat hazard that has caused the burn
  • Cool the burnt area under cool running water.
  • If this isn’t available applying a cold compress or cool water is sufficient .
  • If the burn is mildly painful, painkillers can be treated to treat this. The pain should subside in time. Sometimes burns blister, if it does it is essential that you don’t burst the blister
  • If the burns appear very deep or are painful, numb or black it is essential to seek help immediately.
  • If you are feeling unwell it is important to speak to a healthcare professional

It is essential that:

  • If possible to remove the source of heat
  • If the victim is on fire, try to put out the flames with water or use a blanket to smother the flames
  • If there is any clothing burning, roll the victim on the ground to smother the flames
  • As clothing can retain heat, if possible remove any clothing, however if it is stuck to the skin do not, as it can cause skin damage
  • For electrical burns it is essential to disconnect the source of electricity from the victim before starting first aid. If the electrical source is low voltage 220 – 240v, use a wooden chair or stick to separate the victim from the source.

It is vital not to approach a person connected to a high voltage source 

For chemical burns, removing the clothing of the victim is essential. Brush any chemical off the skin if it is in a dry form then wash the burn with plenty of water for much longer than 20 minutes and seek professional medical advice. Do NOT apply any further chemicals in attempt to neutralise the chemicals.

We recommend covering burns with cling film. Throw away and do not use the first few centimetres of cling film. The cling film is protective, soothing and as it is transparent it will allow the health professionals to assess the burn.

It is recommended that the cling film is applied in layers rather than wrapping it around the arm in a continuous piece, in case the burnt area swells.

There are various types of burns including;

Superficial burns. These burns affect the top layer of the skin, they may look red and are often mildly painful. It does not usually blister or scar.

Partial thickness burns. These burns cause deeper damage to the skin, often form blisters and are painful. The skin usually heals well after these burns and sometimes without scarring.

Full thickness burns damage all the layers of the skin and the skin appears in a white or black colour. The nerve endings have been destroyed so there is minimal pain and these burns require skin grafts.

Electrical burns can cause damage internally and there may be very little damage to the skin.

Should I seek medical advice after a burn? 

The main message is, if you are unsure about what to do after you’ve had a burn, seeking medical advice is recommended. If you have a mild or superficial burn at home, allowing the burn to heal in the fresh air is recommended. If a small blister has formed, leave it uncovered. If the blister does burst, you can use a dry non-adhesive sterile dressing. If the blister is weeping, the dressing will stop the dirt from getting to the wound.

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