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Managing Burns


Managing Burns


Burns, which include scald, sunburn and frostbite, are common causes of skin sores. Skin sores are characterised by the appearance of blisters, bumps or ulcers on the skin around the body.

Read on to discover the signs and symptoms of burns and how you can treat the minor burns.

Types and symptoms of burns

There are 4 degrees of burns, with signs and symptoms that vary based on the severity.

  • First degree burn
    • This is the most common type of burn involving the outer layer of the skin (i.e. epidermis). Affected areas appear red and swollen, and are normally painful.
  • Second degree burn
    • This burn involves both the dermis and epidermis and may appear as a first degree burn but is more severe. The affected areas are also often wet.
  • Third degree burn
    • The skin appears stiff and leathery or waxy, as the fatty tissue beneath the dermis is affected. Some nerves may be burnt as well, causing numbness.
  • Fourth degree burn
    • The burn reaches beyond the fatty tissues and into the muscles and bones. The skin appears charred and the burn may be painless as the nerves have been damaged.

Treating minor burns

Mild burns (i.e. first degree burns) can be managed at home while severe burns or burns involving the face, groin, hands, or feet should be seen by a healthcare professional.

To treat a minor burn, you will need to:

  • Remove any source of burn and cool the affected area with running water for 15 to 30 minutes
  • Apply aloe vera gel on the affected area. Do not apply any ointment or home remedies (e.g. butter, soy sauce or egg white) as they may cause further damage or infection
  • Cover the affected area with sterile gauze, foam dressings or hydrocolloid dressings to minimise the pain and support the healing process
  • Avoid breaking blisters intentionally when they form. If the blisters do break, apply some antiseptic cream and cover them with a bandage

The changing of dressings during the healing process can be very painful. It is hence important that you choose a non-traumatic dressing to minimise pain and trauma to the skin.

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