Different Types of Burns
When we hear the word “burn” we often associate it with heat but, burns are extremely common and can occur as a result of a number of different incidences. Let’s explore the different types of burns and what should be done to treat them. (1)
- Friction burns. These are caused when an object rubs off part of your skin. These are common in bicycle or motorcycle accidents when someone skids across the ground. A carpet burn is also a form of friction burn.
- Cold burns. These are caused by excessive coldness, when the skin becomes so cold it freezes and starts dying. These are referred to as “frostbite.”
- Thermal burns. These occur when someone touches a very hot object. The heat causes skin cells to die. These are common kitchen injuries when people touch a pan or pot before it has cooled enough.
- Radiation burns. X-rays, radiation cancer therapies, or even sun exposure can cause radiation burns. The most common form of radiation burns is sunburn.
- Chemical burns. Chemicals have very strong properties which can kill the skin and burn the flesh. Strong acids, detergents, or solvents can cause these.
- Electrical burns. Electric currents can burn the skin and internal parts of the body. Many children suffer electrical burns when they try to insert toys into electrical outlets.
The Degree of Burns
With any type of burn, the skin and body tissues react in different ways. Medical professionals classify burns in four different degrees which explain how serious the burn is and how they should treat it.
- 1st Degree Burns. These are the least serious type of burns which only affect the outermost layer of the skin. Usually these burns heal after a few days without serious medical attention. These come with minor swelling, pain, and discomfort. These often occur because of sunburn, scalds, and electrical shock. (2)
- 2nd Degree Burns. These burns affect the outer layer of the skin and the layer underneath called the dermis. A second-degree burn will result in swollen red skin which may appear shiny and wet. These are painful and often will blister. (3)
- 3rd Degree Burns. Professionals often refer to these as “full thickness burn.” These burns destroy two layers of skin. People will experience blackened, browned, or yellowing skin. These have severe swelling but people do not feel pain because all nerve endings have been completely damaged. (4)
- 4th Degree burns. These are the most severe burns and can become life threatening if not treated immediately. These burn through all layers of the skin and can continue burning muscles, tendons, and even bones. People do not feel pain because the nerve endings have been destroyed. (5)
Which Burns Can You Treat at Home?
Burns are one of the most common household injuries and depending on the severity, you may treat some at home with basic medical supplies.
Anyone can treat 1st and 2nd degree burns at home. However, 3rd and 4th degree burns are far more serious, and will need the help of medical professionals in a hospital. If someone sustains a serious burn and they lose feeling in the burned area, they should seek professional help immediately.
If any burn is bigger than three inches in diameter, starts to smell, occurs in a sensitive area (like the face or genitals), or has an excessive amount of pain, a person should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Natural At Home Burn Treatments
For 1st and 2nd degree burns most people can treat them at home to reduce burn damage, relieve pain, and limit risks of infection. These are some of the most effective ways to naturally treat a burn at home. (6, 7, 8)
- Clean the burn. When the skin burns, the burn site can hold dead flesh and residue from whatever burned the skin. Cleaning the burn very gently will prevent infection and help it heal more quickly. Do not scrub, but gently tap and wash with antibacterial soap and water.
- Remove jewelry or clothing. Burns often cause swelling. If a burn occurs in an area where there is jewelry such as a ring, bracelet, or anklet, you should remove the jewelry to prevent painful friction which could further damage the skin. If possible, remove clothing around the burn so the skin does not experience chafing and further irritations.
- Run the burn under cold water. Put the burn under cool running water. Not too cold and not too hot. Keeping the burn under the water for 20 minutes will help soothe the area. Hydrogen water made from Synergy Science™ water machines has been known to fight inflammation. Using this water to rinse a burn will help even more than common tap water.
- Keep the burn cold. Burns are hot to the touch and coolness often soothes the pain and slows the swelling process. A cold compress will help if done in 5 to 10 minute intervals. However, do not use ice. Ice will damage the skin further.
- Antibiotic ointments. There are many ointments and creams made specifically for treating burns. These will prevent infections, helping the burn heal more quickly and soothing the skin.
- Aloe Vera. The aloe vera plant has very powerful healing properties and many people refer to it as the “burn plant.” Aloe vera has properties which are anti-inflammatory, promote circulation, and stop the growth of bacteria. Taking the inside gel from fresh Aloe vera and applying it directly to a burn will immediately accelerate the healing process.
- Honey. People often forget how honey contains many healing properties. Honey is anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial and applying it gently to a burn can help it heal safely.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers. Burns can often cause mild to severe amounts of pain. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers will help a person feel relief from the burn pain and cause the swelling to decrease.
- Avoid direct sunlight. Sunlight can irritate any type of burn by further damaging the skin. If a person with a burn goes outside, they should cover their burn so it does not receive direct sunlight.
Not all of these methods will work for everyone but various combinations could greatly accelerate the healing process of a burn and decrease the amount of pain a burned person feels.
How to Avoid Burns
Children are often the recipients of 1st and 2nd degree burns as accidents occur around the home. Every day over 300 children between the ages of 0 and 19 are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries. (9)
Parents or those with children in the home should take basic precautions to ensure their safety from burns of any kind. Make sure the home has smoke alarms and electrical outlets are covered. Check the temperature of water before anyone enters to avoid scalding. Use special care around clothing and hair irons. Cook carefully with the handles of hot pans and pots away from where young children could reach them. (10) Educating children of the dangers of burns will help more than any other method.
When using chemicals to clean or for other household purposes use gloves to protect the skin. Apply sunscreen when your skin will experience direct sunlight
In all circumstances, practice caution to avoid painful burns and injuries. Seek professional medical help if burns are very serious or are not healing properly. Try various natural at home burn remedies and see which one works best for you.