Burns and scalding can be extremely painful and even life-threatening. This is because of the heat and usually, a liquid or other very hot object clinging to the skin. In either case, these are to be treated in the same manner.
The difference between a burn and scalding is that dry heat can cause burns. Burns can of course, be not only painful, but cause the skin to peel, cause blistering on the skin and swelling. They can cause white and/or charred skin as well. For many, the pain that may accompany a burn may not relate closely to the severity of the burn. Often a slight burn can be quite painful while a severe burn may be relatively painless, leading the injured person to believe that the burn is less serious that it actually is.
Scalds, on the other hand, are caused by wet heat. Hot water or steam can cause scalding, such as accidentally spilled hot liquids like coffee.
Other hot liquids can be even more serious. In restaurants, oil at a temperature of nearly 400º F can cause extremely serious damage to a person, leave permanent scarring and even cause death.
Treatment for Burns and Scalds
Burns and scalds require immediate treatment. The person should be removed from the source of the burn. Lukewarm water running gently over the burned area for twenty minutes or so can not only reduce the damage but soothe the pain that can accompany the burn.
Many believe ice, etc. to soothe and stop the burn but ice and other commonly, misused applications such as butter or creams may only aggravate the burns by sticking to the affected areas.
Any jewelry or clothing around or on the burned area should be carefully removed. That includes diapers. However, any clothing that is sticking to the skin should be left in place and removed later on by a professional.
It is also important that the injured be kept warm, but if using a blanket, care must be taken that it does not touch the burned area. A clean plastic bag or Saran-type wrap placed over the burned area can be helpful. Painkillers may be given as well, if available.
If the injured suffers from burns around the face or eyes, it is preferable to have the victim sit up rather than to lie down. This action may help in the reduction of swelling.
Serious burns or scalding call for the attention of physicians. Patients should go, or be taken to a hospital for any burns involving chemicals or electricity.
Any burns that appear to be extensive as well as deep, larger than the normal hand, may require the attention of medical professionals as well as burns showing white or charred skin. Burns on the hands, face, genitals, or other parts of the body that cause blisters need immediate medical attention.
Smoke inhalation is very dangerous, although some of its symptoms may not be immediately apparent. Signs that the injured may be suffering from smoke inhalation may come from coughing, complaining of a sore throat, facial burns and perhaps difficulty breathing.
Different Types of Burns
The medical profession assesses burns by determining the seriousness of the damage to the patient’s skin and the number of layers of skin affected. The skin has three layers: the epidermis or outer layer of skin. Just beneath that lies the dermis. The dermis contains the blood capillaries, sweat glands, hair follicles and nerve endings and beneath this is the subcutaneous fat (the subcutis) a deeper layer of fat and tissue.
Prevention of Burning and Scalding
Babies and young children are often the victims of burns and scalding. This is of course, because of their small size as well as their lack of understanding of the world around them and its dangers; they often find themselves involved in extremely hazardous behavior.
If a pot handle on the cooker is noticeable, a child may pull it to see what is contained inside the pot. This can naturally result in a serious injury from hot liquids, liquids that may damage a child for life.
Whenever possible, a child should never be allowed in the kitchen without the presence of an adult.
Parents should always personally test bath water, using an elbow before placing a child in the bath.
Matches, candles, and any lighters, etc. should always be kept out of the reach of children and they should never be given hot drinks.