How Do You Care for a Burn?


Quick Answer

Depending on the severity of a burn, treatment includes some combination of applying cold water for several minutes, wrapping the burn in sterile gauze and using drugstore medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen to minimize the pain. Major burns require the immediate attention of a doctor, according to Mayo Clinic.

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How Do You Care for a Burn?
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Full Answer

Burns are divided into three categories, Mayo Clinic explains, and each level of burn requires a different type of treatment. First-degree burns are the most minor of the three categories and can be treated easily at home by using the steps outlined above and monitoring the injury for changes. In the event that a first-degree burn spans a large area of the body, Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor immediately.

Second-degree burns are often identifiable by extreme swelling, pain, blisters and redness. As long as they are small in size, second-degree burns can be treated the same way as first-degree burns by using cold water, gauze and pain medication. If the burn occurs on a sensitive area of the body, such as the face or hands, and is larger than 3 inches in diameter, Mayo Clinic stresses the necessity for immediate medical attention.

Third-degree burns are the most severe of the three classifications and signify an extreme medical emergency, according to Mayo Clinic. They can destroy tissue, bone and muscle and leave permanent scars on the body. Third-degree burns should be elevated and wrapped in a moist, sterile cloth or bandage until emergency assistance arrives.

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