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Six Lessons I Learned When Treating Burn Wounds

Updated on September 4, 2011

Having a burn wound is not easy.

Barely two weeks ago, my husband’s left wrist got burned. It wasn’t life – threatening but it definitely set me on a spin. Since it was my first time to be with a person who got burned, I was at a loss on what to do. I got him to an emergency room where he was given treatment for a first – degree burn. We thought everything will be okay. Three days later, we found out that we (and the emergency room doctor) were wrong; majority of it was actually a 2nd degree burn! So, we had to go to another doctor to get the proper treatment.

Fortunately, after just one week of treatment, the wound is now on its way to becoming 100% healed. We were lucky because the treatment given was very mild and it immediately worked. Fortunately, also, the second doctor was more down willing to sit down with us to discuss what happened, where we (almost) went wrong and what we need to do in the future.

Suffice it to say that I learned a lot of things from this second doctor on how to treat burn wounds. I’d like to share some of those through this hub.

How to Treat Burn Blisters

How to Treat a Chemical Burn

How to Treat Burns and Scalds

First, water (or better, running water) is a good first step when treating burn wounds. This will help wash away dirt, chemicals, etc. In case the burn was caused by chemicals (such as the hot coolant from your car, which is the case for my husband), running water is better. Do not apply toothpaste (which is an old wives’ tale) or lotion (unless given the go – signal by your doctor).

Second, don’t assume that it is only a minor burn, especially if you just see red skin and there are no blisters. Blisters do not appear at once after getting burned. In my husband’s case, the blister didn’t appear until 48 hours later. At first, it was very small, smaller than the fingernail on the pinkie (little finger). Then, after 4 hours, it was now the size of a coin (a one – peso coin in our country). Plus, it kept getting bigger.

Third, that the size of the blister doesn’t equate the actual size of the burned area. When the burned skin was removed, we saw that the area with a 2nd degree burn was actually two times the size of the blister! We thought that the majority of the burn was only 1st degree. After the skin was removed, it turned out that the area with a 1st degree burn was only like one third of the whole burned area. Majority was actually a 2nd degree burn!

Fourth, that anti – inflammatory creams will not be effective unless the burned skin will be removed. No wonder the wound didn’t get better despite the fact that my husband kept on diligently applying cream on the affected area. The skin had to be removed first before you can apply the cream! To maximize the effect of the cream, a clean dry gauze should be wrapped around the creamed area and it should be kept dry at all times.

Fifth, that if the wound was not treated at once the worst – case scenario will be surgery to treat the wound. The wound was only treated 3 days after the incident. The doctor assured us that we were still on time. If we waited one week before having it treated, it would have been too late and the infection would have penetrated the inner skin.

Lastly, patience is the key. Treating burn wounds is not a one – hour or even a one – day affair (unless it’s really mild). You have to keep applying creams or ointment or lotion (the lotion is when the wound is on its way to healing and is not a treatment by itself). You have to change the dressing every day or go to your doctor to have it changed for you. You have to make sure that you follow your doctor’s order to the letter.

Treating burn wounds is not easy. Even if the case is just mild (like ours), the anxiety and the worry that it is actually much worse than first thought is still there and it can stress any people out. We were quite fortunate that we managed to find a doctor who was knowledgeable about these things (she is actually a surgeon who specializes in treating burn wounds). If this happens again (although I hope not!), we, at least, know what to do and where to go to. Thanks for reading!


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    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 6 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      Thanks for sharing emievil. It all makes perfectly good sense. I got burned from my car radiator a few years ago. A pain from a burn is the worst pain in the world. Any way, I was smart ehough to give myself the basic first aid treatmeent, before being taken to the hospital. I was lucky. I only had first degree burns but they were severe enough to make my eyelids swell shut for almost 2 days.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 6 years ago from Lagos

      Thanks for this wonderful information. It is useful and well taken. Hope your hun is well and ok. Bless you

    • sarovai profile image

      sarovai 6 years ago

      emievil, usually I suggest for plenty of running water on wound (burn). It gives good result. From your experience, it seems you acted in the right time, and consulted two doctors. Your love for your husband is great. Thank u for sharing.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 6 years ago from Philippines

      Hello, hello, how are you? I was just wondering how you are doing since I haven't seen you for quite some time now. Hope you're doing fine. Thanks for the comment. :)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for sharing these great helpful tips. It is so important to do the right things at once.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 6 years ago from Philippines

      Wow a week later? Can't imagine how it looked and felt for you. Hope everything's okay with your wound now. Thanks for the comment!

    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 6 years ago

      Useful hub! I had an accident two years back which the hot boiled water poured onto my chest...I treated it as a minor case but was advised to go to doctor after a week's later...yes, it was actually a serious burnt. Well, you know the story then...if I were to know such knowledge beforehand, I wouldn't have to bear all the Consequences... Great job Emie!