Whether it was you or your child, a skin burn is a sudden and painful injury that needs attention. First and foremost, you need to determine the severity of the burn. A minor or first degree burn may be monitored and treated at home, but always seek a medical professional for more severe burn treatment. A third degree burn, for example, affects all layers of the skin and can only heal with medical intervention.
Minor burns are those that affect the top superficial layer of the skin, or the epidermis. You may experience mild to moderate pain and swelling from this type of burn. Here are some steps to follow immediately after you suffer from a minor burn to expedite the healing and reduce your discomfort:
- Remove any sources of constriction near the burn. This may involve removing jewelry or tight clothing. Doing this allows more blood to flow to the area of injury, which accelerates the healing process and eliminates extra friction.
- Cool it off. Either rinse the burn under cold water or apply a cold compress to the area immediately after the accident. If you are using an ice pack, make sure you have a cloth or other soft barrier between the ice and your skin.
- Take a pain reliever. For any radiating pain or discomfort of a burn, try an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Clean the burn. In order to prevent infection, use gentle soap and water to clean the burned area of skin.
- Apply ointment. After you’ve cooled, cleaned and dried the burn, you can apply a healing ointment to soothe the skin and facilitate healing. Polysporin, Aloe Vera or simple Vaseline can help.
- Beware of home remedies. Never try “home remedies” like butter or egg whites before consulting a dermatologist, as it may make the burn worse or cause an infection.
- Refrain from scratching. Burns can be itchy as they heal. However, scratching the site can not only slow down the healing process, but it can also introduce germs to the wound.
- Protect the burn from the sun. To avoid scarring and discoloration at the burn site, be sure to cover the area or apply sunblock when you are exposed to UV rays.
- Watch for signs of an infection. Over the next several days, if you notice changes in the wound color, a foul odor, swelling, redness or warmth, call your physician right away.
When it comes to skin burns, it is always best to let a board certified dermatologist take a look if you have concerns about how to treat it or why it is not healing properly. Your skin is very resilient and has the ability to heal fairly quickly. However, to avoid infection or permanent scarring, a dermatologist can recommend the most effective treatment plan. At Olansky Dermatology Associates, we provide comprehensive skin care for your entire family!