The Dos and Don’ts of Treating Burns

Burns. They can happen any time of year but seem to be more common in the summer when outdoor activities and celebrations are even more prevalent. Some may be surprised to learn that you can get a 3rd degree burn from the sun and that the majority of burns – about 73 percent – happen at home. Precautions are necessary to keep everyone safe while having a good time.

From sunburns to outdoor fire-pits and barbeques, the severity of burns and their treatment can vary greatly, but any burn can cause damage to your skin and the lasting effects of a bad burn are sometimes worse than the immediate pain.

Getting a sunburn damages and disrupts the cells of the skin and how they adhere to one another. This eventually results in peeling skin which is your body’s way of saying that significant damage has occurred and it’s beginning to heal. It is imperative to keep the skin hydrated by using lotions, gel or creams, which tend to be the most moisturizing. Here are some tips for preventing burns, and treating them when needed.

Sunburn remedies

To remedy sunburn, get inside and into a cool climate. Ice is not recommended since it can actually burn your skin and cause more harm. Use a cool compress, such as a washcloth dipped into a basin of ice water, and apply directly on the affected area. Follow with hydrating lotions, gels or creams to relieve discomfort and lessen flaking and peeling of the skin.

It’s a good idea to take an anti-inflammatory such as Advil or Ibuprofen for 48 hours from the minute you see signs of a sunburn. This will help to minimize swelling and redness.

Sun sensitivity beyond a sunburn

You may be suffering from sun poisoning and will need to see your physician if you have a severe sunburn with symptoms such as skin rash, blistering, headache, fever, chills, nausea or dizziness. A doctor may recommend an over the counter antihistamine such as Benadryl, Claritin or Allegra or in extreme cases they may prescribe a prescription antihistamine or a steroid such as prednisone to relieve the symptoms.

When to go to the ER

If the pain associated with your burn – be it a sunburn or direct-contact-to-a-hot-item burn – really seems inconsistent with the severity of the burn injury, or if the pain has not subsided, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention right away. If left untreated, a severe burn can lead to a bacterial infection and increase your risk of sepsis, a life-threatening infection.

Grill burn treatment

Of course, extra precautions should be taken when being near an open flame such as a fire-pit or barbeque grill. If you suffer a burn from an open flame, the first thing you want to do is cool the area with lukewarm water, gradually moving on to a cold compress, if possible. A home remedy is to apply honey to the burn, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. After placing honey on the burn, leave it open to the air, do not cover it.

A big mistake people make is deciding to open up a blister, which is not a good idea. The blister is the body’s natural band-aid to protect the injury from bacteria and other irritants. The only time a blister needs to be opened is if it’s really tight and causing a lot of discomfort and that should only be performed by a medical professional.

Be smart, stay safe, and protect you and your family’s skin from burns this summer.