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How To Treat A Burn

Posted by Wayne Bennett on

I have treated a lot of burn victims over the years as a firefighter/EMT and can tell you burns are at the top of the list for pain and complications, short and long term. So treatment for burns must be done quickly and correctly to be effective. There is a lot of misinformation about burn care and home remedies for burns, most of which I consider very dangerous for the patient. 

Burn accidents range from a scale in the kitchen to grabbing the hot handle of a pan on the stove, outdoor activities include camping, motorcycles, and burns from fireworks. These are just some of the accidents we have seen as firefighters.


There are three different degrees of burns which we should review.

Most of us have had a first degree, sunburn type burn. Some of us have experienced a second-degree burn and very few have experienced or seen a third-degree burn.

  • First Degree Burn– This is a minor burn of the first layer of skin. Painful. Usually, sunburn-like, reddening of the skin.
  • Second Degree Burn– More severe having burned through the second layer or more of  the skin. Very painful. Blistering and sloughing of the skin is not uncommon.
  • Third Degree Burn– This is the worst of the burns because the damage extends past the upper layers of the skin to the sensitive subcutaneous tissue, destroying nerves, blood vessels, and other dermal components. With a third degree burn, you also have a second degree and first-degree burns as you move away from the center of the burn. So there will still be pain.

I am going to come from a place of being prepared, and to be prepared with the best treatment I have seen and used personally for all types of burn. I am going to share with you a product called  BURN FREE burn gel. This pure gel comes in a bottle or on non-stick sterile dressings and comes without all the side effects of typical burn treatments.

For a minor burn, simply use burn gel straight from the bottle. Apply generously and DO NOT rub in. Cover with a small gauze dressing. For sunburns simply pour right onto the skin, nice and thick. Re-apply as necessary.

For Chemical burns, you must flush the site for at least 20 minutes with water. After that, apply burn gel dressings and leave on up to 3 hours before replacing with dry sterile dressing.

For Electrical burns check for an entrance wound and an exit wound (i.e. enters the hand touching the wire, exits the foot touching the ground) cut away any clothing with your EMT shears, leave stuck clothing in place. Remove burn gel dressing from the package with gloves on and place over burn wounds. Secure in place using a roll of gauze. Seek medical attention.

For Thermal burns resulting in more severe burns, immediately cover with a burn gel dressing, empty any residue from the package onto the foam dressing. Secure in place with a roll of gauze. If the face is burned, first cut holes in the dressing for nose and mouth to facilitate breathing. Again secure the dressing in place.

These burn gel methods are the best All -In- One Treatment for burns, again without all of the side effects of standard treatments.  The following are Burn Gel benefits.

  • Stops burn progression, lessening the tissue damage and depth of the burn
  • Stops the pain by smothering the exposed nerve endings in gel/water
  • Stops the risk of infection with its built-in antibacterial characteristics
  • Stops the risk of hypothermia
  • Being water soluble the gel and dressing don’t stick to wound

But, if you do not have burn gel, you can use water. Here are some guidelines for using water. First, cool the burn with tepid water, not ice water. Ice water can drop the body core temperature too quickly and cause shock in the burn victim. Apply water from 10 minutes up to 40 minutes to remove all the heat and stop the burn progression. If the burn is larger than two hands on an Adult, DO NOT use water as it can result in hypothermia shock. For a child, this would be the size of one of their hands. In that case only use dry sterile dressings. Of course, it won’t stop the burn progression or the pain and it will stick to the wound, but it will reduce the chance of infection and reduce the chance of hypothermia.

Consult a doctor for any burn more than the just first degree.

Here is a list of  CAUTIONS!

  • Never pop blisters- high risk of infection
  • Never apply butter or grease products- holds in heat, increases burn progression
  • Never apply ice- risk of frostbite to already burned tissue
  • Never apply food or home remedies- risk of infection or sealing in the heat
I have recently received several emails regarding the use of Egg Whites on burns. My first aid training says food is never a good idea on an open wound. A burn is just that. Very susceptible to infection. Egg whites are a host for millions of micro-organisms. Any benefit they could have offered would be grossly negated by the risk of infection. Not to mention, you have to eventually remove all the dried up egg whites from that burn, OUCH! I don’t think the doctors would be very impressed.


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