Self Care Center - How to Treat a Burn

How to Treat a Burn

Burns destroy skin, which controls the amount of heat our bodies retain or release, holds in fluids, and protects us from infection. While burns on fingers and hands are usually not dangerous, burns injuring even relatively small areas of skin can develop serious complications.

What To Do.....................

- Treating a burn begins with stopping the burning process. Cool the burned area with cool running water for several minutes. If an ambulance is coming, continue running water over the burned area until the ambulance arrives.

- Look for blistering, sloughing, or charred (blackened) skin.

Blistering or sloughing (skin coming off) means the top layer of skin is completely damaged, and the complication of infection is likely. Charring indicates even deeper damage to all three layers of the skin.

If the damaged area is bigger than one entire arm or the whole abdomen, call 911 or take the victim to the emergency department immediately.

- Victims with burns to the following areas need emergency medical assistance.





- Minor burns with reddened skin and no blisters may be treated with a topical burn ointment or spray to reduce pain.

- Cool water (not cold or warm) may also help with pain.


- Ibuprofen or Tylenol can be used for the pain of a mild burn.

- Elevate the burned area to reduce swelling

- While the burn is healing, wear loose natural clothing like silks or light cottons. Harsher fabrics will irritate the skin even more.



Student Health Center

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State University of New York at Fredonia
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