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Got a Holiday Skin Burn? Here’s What to Do

Got a Holiday Skin Burn? Here’s What to Do

Got a Holiday Skin Burn? Here’s What to Do

No holiday season is complete without food and family. With all the cooking and cleaning, you’re surrounded by hot pots and pans. Touch them with any part of your body, and you may burn yourself.

According to the American Burn Association, someone in the United States requires burn-related treatment every minute of every day. Knowing what to do and where to go ensures your burns starts healing as soon as possible.

Know the Burn Levels

Many burns are caused by cooking, drinking, and handling hot foods and hot liquids. While water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, you burn at a much lower temperature. In just three seconds, 140-degree water can burn you so badly that you need surgery.

However, all burns aren’t medical emergencies. Most skin burns fall into the following categories:

  • First-degree burns. Though considered minor burns, first-degree burns hurt. They affect the outer layer of your skin and can occur anywhere on your body. These burns cause swelling and redness around the burned areas and result in dry wounds.
  • Second-degree burns. Second-degree burns affect two layers of skin and hurt more than first-degree burns. These burns cause wet, red blisters. Push on this type of burn, and it may turn white. If affecting deeper layers of skin, however, the area may not change colors with pressure.
  • Third-degree burns. Also caused “full thickness” burns, third-degree burns cause serious tissue damage to deep skin layers. This type of burn may leave skin numb and abnormally white, black, or brown with a dry, leathery texture. Left untreated, these can be life-threatening burn injuries.

Care for Minor Skin Burns

All first-degree burns are minor burns. Second-degree burns are burns that are no larger than three inches that don’t break the skin. Most of the time, these wounds heal within two or three weeks. With proper care, you can reduce your risk for infection and scarring.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends these at-home treatments for a minor skin burn:

  • Help the burn cool down. As soon as possible, place the burned area under cool water. You can also cover the burn with a cool, wet compress. Keep the area covered until the pain goes away, which may take 10 or more minutes.
  • Moisten the wound. Every day, clean the wound and spread petroleum jelly on it two or three times. Petroleum jelly prevents scabbing and speeds the healing process.
  • Keep it covered. Once you apply petroleum jelly, cover the wound with a bandage. Make sure there is no sticky area over the burn area.
  • Use medication if necessary. Skin burns can cause inflammation and pain. Over-the-counter medications can relieve both symptoms.
  • Stay in the shade. When possible, keep your wound out of the sun, even after healing. Wearing sunscreen or long sleeves over burn wounds reduces the likelihood of scars.

It’s also a good idea to wear loose clothing that doesn’t rub against the burn. If a burn affects your hands, genitals, feet, or face or covers a large space on your body, contact your provider. Your wound may not respond to home treatment. Expert wound care may be necessary. You should also call your provider if a minor burn continues hurting after two days or becomes infected.

Treating Major Burns

When a second-degree skin burn is bigger than three inches, covers a knee or other joint, or is on the face, groin, hands, feet, or bottom, it’s a major burn. All third-degree burns are major. These require immediate emergency care. Thanks to new advances, quick care promotes healing and reduces the risk of scarring, deformity, or disability.

Treatment for major burns takes place in a hospital or burn center. Healing typically takes two months or longer. Treatment options include:

  • Bandages. Sterile bandages are applied to the burned area. These contain antibiotics or other special creams or ointments that help heal the injury and prevent infection. Your bandages must be replaced on a regular basis.
  • Grafts. Skin grafts are a standard part of care with third-degree burns. The first step is to surgically remove all dead tissue. Healthy skin is then put in the place of the damaged skin. This skin may come from a donor or elsewhere on your body. Over time, surrounding tissue connects to the grafted skin, healing the burned area.
  • Movement. Healing from a severe burn takes time. Proper exercise helps you maintain function and range of motion for the affected area and the rest of your body.

If you experience a major burn, call 911. Don’t attempt to treat the burn on your own and keep on clothes that stick to the burned area.

Avoiding Holiday Skin Burns

Preventive steps help you avoid skin burns during the holidays. To reduce the risk of kitchen-related burns, follow these tips:

  • Always use potholders or oven mitts. Grabbing a cookie sheet or pan full of sweet potatoes without protection is a recipe for a holiday skin burn.
  • Dress to cook. Change out of loose-fitting clothing and wear a shirt with tight sleeves or no sleeves at all. Leave bracelets and long necklaces in the jewelry box.
  • Keep children out. During the holidays, the kitchen can get extra busy. To protect against burns, you may want to make your kitchen child-free. At the least, mark off a kid-free zone that extends three or more feet from the oven and stove.
  • Push hot stuff away from the edge. Hot gravy, stuffing, and pumpkin pie can all cause burns. When placing them on a countertop, push them away from the edge. Doing so prevents little fingers from pulling them down or knocking them over.
  • Take your time. Go too fast, and you’re more likely to move carelessly. Slow down and think. Put on an oven mitt when grabbing hot pots and pans and carry one dish to the table at a time.
  • Turn handles toward the backsplash. Doing so prevents people from walking by and accidentally hitting a handle and causing a spill.

Need help treating a minor skin burn? Find a provider at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.