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When Burns Need Medical Treatment

Posted Jan 12 2009 2:28pm

Most people have had a minor burn sometime in their lives. Maybe you picked up a hot pot, had cooking grease splatter on you, or stuck you hand in some dish water that had gotten a little too hot. If this has happen to you, then you know how painful a minor can be both after it happens and as it is healing.

If you can take that memory and multiply by it times 10 or more, you can get some idea of how uncomfortable a severe burn can be when it happens. That bad of a burn needs immediately medical treatment in order to prevent infection, dehydration, scarring, and other problems. Knowing the difference between when you can treat the burn at home and when you need medical care is very important.

A minor burn, often known as a first degree burn, just appears red to be inflamed at the burn site. A more serious second or third degree burn can have a charred appearance, blistering of the skin, of have skin peeling away. These are signs that the burn needs to be seen my medical professional as soon as possible. Besides the physical appearance of a second or third degree burn, the victim may suffer from dehydration, infection, weakness and confusion, hypothermia, chills, or fever. A burn with these symptoms requires immediate treatment at a medical facility. If you are concerned about moving the burn victim, call 911 or emergency services immediately.

You should keep in mind that not all burns will have an outward sign. An electrical burn, for example, does the majority of its damage inside the body with few, if any, outward signs. Therefore, all electrical burns should be treated as emergencies and the victim should receive immediate medical attention. Chemical burns can also cause a variety of outward symptoms and may react with topical medications or even water. If a chemical burn occurs, call 911 or your local poison control immediately to determine the best course of action. Have on hand the exact chemical that was involved in the burning so that you can tell medical personnel what the victim came in contact with.

Even some minor-seeming burn may need medical treatment because of their size and or location. Burns on the hands, genitalia, face, or feet should be examined even if they appear mild. Burns on the neck and face are of particular concern, because the swelling can interfere with the victim’s ability to breathe. Large burns, such as the ones that cover an entire arm or leg, also need immediate medical attention. Larger burns are more likely to become infected or cause blood flow restrictions because of swelling which can lead to additional complications.

If you are ever in doubt about the severity of a burn and whether or not you should seek medical attention, it is always best to contact your doctor or another medical professional immediately. Call 911 if you have any concerns at all. A serious burn can lead to serious side effects if ever left untreated, so it is best to err on the side of caution and get medical assistance.

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