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Feb 17, 2011

Healthy Living gets a sunburn

We’ve all heard about first, second and third degree burns, but many people don’t really know what those terms mean. And when it comes to the treatment, the home remedies are too many to mention. This week’s Healthy Living will shed some light on skin burns; the classifications and proper first aid treatment.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It is, perhaps, one of the most common types of injury you can experience. Whether it is a thermal burn caused by a heat source, a chemical burn caused by a strong solution, an electrical burn or even sunburn, everyone can identify with the pain and discomfort that lingers after being burnt. In addition to classifying burns by causes, the wound is also classified by severity. Dermatologist, Dr Peter Craig explains the difference between first, second & third degree burns and how to respond to them.

Peter Craig

Doctor Peter Craig, Dermatologist

“That basically relies on the thickness of the skin. First degree burns are also known as superficial burns because they affect the epidermis the top layer of the skin. And then we have partial thickness burns which would extend into the dermis which is the second layer of the skin. So they involve the top layer, the epidermis the second layer the dermis and then there are full thickness burns which are 3rd degree burns and these involve epidermis, dermis, the subcutaneous fat, muscles and sometime even down to the bone. So those of course are the more severe burns.”

Marleni Cuellar

Marleni Cuellar

“Now one of the things that often happens when somebody gets burn is that they would try to do an at home treatment immediately. What is your recommendation in terms of first aid care immediately after somebody has been exposed to heat or chemical or whatever the cause might be?”

Dr. Peter Craig

“The heat and the chemical burns are perhaps the two most common to occur in a home. The first aid tip for your minor burns which are your superficial burns which would be to get close to running water if there is running water in the home. If it’s an area like the hand, just let it run for like 10, 15 even twenty minutes. That helps in relieving the pain and the redness and also it helps in trying to dissipate some of the heat from getting into the skin to come out through the water.”

The immediate response for a chemical burn would be the same. Many people attempt their own at home treatment for burns. One common remedy is to use to something from your fridge; specifically butter. Dr Craig tells us the effect such action would have and what we should do about blisters.

Dr. Peter Craig

“It’s very common that people would want to put grease, butter, or Vaseline on burns. It is not a good practice actually what that does is hold in the heat and causes infections cause remember with a burn you burn the surface of the skin which is our protection against bacterial entry. Those things are not really recommended.  Blisters are found in the second degree burns, the partial thickness burns. So if blisters arise they are sterile in the blisters so don’t break the blisters especially at home cause you don’t know what you’re using, the skin is broken and obviously there’s the risk of an infection.”

Marleni Cuellar

“At what point does someone need to come out and seek medical care?”

Dr. Peter Craig

“Depending on the area that is burned. For example, burns that occur on the face, close to the eyes, the mouth those need expert supervision, burns involving the hands or feet because of the danger that may happen as a result of the burn. Areas involving if it’s the airway, if someone has inhaled smoke from a hot area the lungs can swell up on you so that needs to be addressed and of course areas involving the genital area, if a burn goes around a joint, around an elbow, a writs or a knee simply because of the risk of scarring later on.”

Second and Third degree burns will require medical attention. The superficial or first degree burn usually heals on its own in about a week to ten days. Dr Craig recommends using sunscreen after the skin has peeled off, especially if the burn is on the face, to minimize discoloration that may occur.

So the next time you’re burned respond accordingly.

Dr. Peter Craig

“Putting the burning area under running water that is something you must do and then covering the area with a clean cloth or sterile gauze if that is available. 09.59 don’t try to put any butter or Vaseline unto the area, if blisters form that is a deeper burn so you have to pay more attention to that and that would be extra painful. Don’t try to break your blisters and just continue your pain management if that is available for you.”

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