Whether it’s from sunburn, a backyard grill, a campfire accident, a curling iron or any other cause, summertime burns can be painful, uncomfortable and challenging to heal, especially in more serious cases. Here are some tips to assist you in caring for summertime burn wounds.
How serious is it? Many burns are minor, not requiring extensive care. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, in those rare situations when you need to go to an emergency room, the doctor will start by examining your skin to see if the burn covers more than 10% of your total body area, among other symptoms. If it does, you’ll be transferred to a burn center for more specialized treatment.
What if it’s only a first-degree burn? The American Academy of Dermatology says that a minor, first-degree burn is limited strictly to the top layer of the skin. For example, sunburn can be considered a first-degree burn; your skin will be red, painful and show signs of mild swelling. Although this type of burn isn’t as serious as second- and third-degree types, it can still hurt a great deal and result in scarring if not treated properly. First-degree burns can usually be treated at home, with full recovery happening over the course of a few weeks.
How do you treat a minor burn? The Cleveland Clinic advises getting out of the sun immediately and lowering your skin’s temperature with a cool bath or shower. This will not only provide some initial pain relief but also help reduce inflammation. But don’t overdo it, as bathing or showering can also dry out your skin. Another option is applying cold compresses such as wet towels or washcloths as often as needed.
What about ice? Medication and Pharmaceutical News warns that starting burn treatment with ice is not a wise move. The ice can cause frostbite and damage the skin, leading to more complications. Their suggestion is to use room-temperature water or a piece of gauze saturated with saline solution.
What happens next? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the next steps in your treatment should include applying petroleum jelly several times per day. Avoid topical antibiotics, however. Then, cover the wound with a sterile, nonstick gauze or bandage. The AAD says that If blisters form, the best thing to do is let them heal on their own, but still keep them covered. Finally, if the discomfort bothers you, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat the pain and inflammation.
You’ll also want to talk to your doctor about smartPAC by Advanced Tissue to get prescribed wound care supplies delivered to your front door, giving you all the tools to promote wound healing at home.