Treating burns early is actually the most important:
- Remove the cause of the burn.
Immediately remove the cause of the burn from the affected area. If there is grease or chemicals on your skin (or clothing that’s caught fire), you need to remove the continued source of the burn as quickly as possible.
For chemicals you may need to double check that nothing is continuing to cause damage. In the case of my patient, the battery got into her shoe and it was not noticed right away. It caused more damage to her foot than her thigh because it was not treated as quickly.
- Treat the area with cold water.
Leave any affected burn areas under cold water for 10 minutes. This time is essential in reducing the heat in the skin and stopping the burn’s progression. You may even want to irrigate with water for longer depending on the type of chemical burn and extent.
- Evaluate the burn.
After 10 minutes of treatment with cold water, assess the existing damage and plan for needed treatment. Call your physician for guidance. If you’re traveling to a medical facility, keep a cool compress on the area while you travel, if possible.
- Keep the burn clean.
Burns break down skin and often breed infections that can be severe. Removing debris that might contain bacteria and keeping the area clean is important.