Methods for Treating Minor Burns

On average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries during the month around the Fourth of July holiday, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of that number, more than 44 percent are for burn treatment, and the most injured body parts are hands and fingers.

We want you to have a happy Fourth of July season, but please do safely.

If a serious injury does occur or if a burn victim is an infant or elderly person, seek medical treatment immediately.

To treat minor burns that only affect the top layer of the skin, which are referred to as first-degree burns, take the following steps:

1. Cool the burn immediately by immersing it in cool tap water or by applying cool, wet compresses. Do this for about 10 minutes or until the pain subsides.

2. Apply petroleum jelly to the area two to three times daily. Do not apply ointments, toothpaste, or butter to the burn, as these may cause an infection. Do not apply topical antibiotics.

3. Cover the burn with a nonstick, sterile bandage.

4. If blisters form, do not pop them. Allow them to heal on their own, but continue to keep the area covered.

5. Over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help relieve the pain and reduce inflammation.

6. Once the burn heals, protect the area from the sun by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, or applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This will help minimize scarring, as the redness from a burn sometimes persists for weeks.

If the injury does not heal properly or leaves a scar, make an appointment to see one of our dermatologists for further treatment.


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