ANNOUNCER: Burns! They're a fact of life, and one of the most common accidents around the house. But how you treat them depends upon how seriously the skin is damaged.
SCOTT CARUTHERS, FIRST AID EXPERT : So we can clearly see the difference between the first- and second-degree burn here in that the second-degree burn is blistering and has broken the skin. Whereas the first-degree burn was just tender and swollen, but there'll be no break in the integrity or the surface of the skin. The third-degree burns will be clearly different because there will be holes or chunks missing. Tissue has actually been destroyed
ANNOUNCER: While a third degree burn calls for emergency medical treatment, many first and second degree burns can be treated at home. The first step for both is running cool water over them for several minutes.
SCOTT CARUTHERS, FIRST AID EXPERT : That's going to do two things. First of all, it's going to clean the wound, as I said, and it's also going to reduce the pain and swelling that the patient is feeling.
ANNOUNCER: Water is enough for most first-degree burns. But second-degree burns need protection.
SCOTT CARUTHERS, FIRST AID EXPERT : Whenever the skin is broken, that allows for contaminants or bacteria to enter, so we're going to cover the wound with a dry sterile bandage to prevent any bacteria or contaminants from entering into the wound and beginning the infection process.
ANNOUNCER: Breaking the blister is a no-no.
SCOTT CARUTHERS, FIRST AID EXPERT : The blisters are much like workforces sent by the body to accomplish the repairing of the skin or the damaged tissue that has been affected by the burn or the wound. So breaking them would be counterproductive to what the body is attempting to do.
ANNOUNCER: Even with first and second-degree burns, there are times you want to see a doctor.
SCOTT CARUTHERS, FIRST AID EXPERT : If a burn is larger than two or three inches in diameter, then you probably want to see a doctor, because that seems pretty severe. And if it's on certain parts of the body that are used more frequently like the inside of your hand, your fingers, your elbows, any sort of joints which are going to have a constant and repetitive motion.
ANNOUNCER: Following these steps can keep minor accidents from turning into major problems. Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.