Step away from the butter! Here are tips for treating burns at home and not causing more damage!

Last week was National Burn Awareness Week which is about raising awareness around prevention measures and treatment innovations. According to the American Burn Association, around 1.1 million patients are admitted to hospitals in the United States because of burns each year.

And not all burns are the same. In fact, they can be divided into three types based on severity.

First-degree burns can cause pain, redness and swelling, but only affect the top layer of skin.

Second-degree burns affect both the top and middle layers of the skin and are usually accompanied by blisters.

Third-degree burns are the most severe and can cause damage to all layers of the skin as well as the nerves in the affected area.

There have been many advances when it comes to treating burns, but there are also some age-old myths that need to be busted.

Burns can be treated with fish skin — here’s how pic.twitter.com/f598HTJAJo

— Insider (@thisisinsider) April 15, 2019

 

Here’s what to do – and what not to do – when it comes to treating burns at home (and when you should call in the professionals).

DON’T smear butter on it! Many people still believe the myth which claims that rubbing butter onto a burn can relieve the pain and aid in healing. This, however, can actually lead to infection. DO opt for aloe vera or bacitracin, which are both known for their soothing properties. It’s also advised that you keep the wound covered to avoid contamination.

DON’T put ice on it! This might seem weird because ice is known to calm inflammation. But you can actually cause lasting tissue damage and scarring by holding a block of ice over raw, exposed skin. DO soak a washcloth in cold water and use that instead. It is far less harsh on the wound and, as such, less likely to aggravate it, make it worse, or stand in the way of its healing.

DON’T pop your blisters! As tempting as it may be, this is another way that infections can occur. It can also prolong the healing process and lead to tight, uncomfortable skin. DO ensure that you keep the area clean by gently rinsing it in water once or twice a day. When it’s not being washed, keep the wound covered to prevent an infection from setting in.

When to seek help

Not all burns can be treated safely at home. Here’s when to seek immediate care:

  • If a burn is deep.
  • The area is larger than three inches in diameter.
  • If the burn covers a sensitive area, such as the groin, hands, feet, or a major joint.
  • The area appears charred, with white, black, or brown patches.

Of course, prevention is always better than a cure, so be careful when handling fire or electricity to minimize your risk.