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Minor burns often occur when we least expect it! There are various elements that can cause burns, such as hot water or vapour, a scalding object, a flame, chemicals, electricity, and overexposure to the sun. What should be done in this kind of situation?
A minor burn is often described as a “first degree burn”. It affects the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. When this occurs, the skin appears dry, red, and is painful. When pressed down with a finger, the skin turns white. In most cases, minor burns heal within three to six days and do not leave a scar.
A minor burn can sometimes cause small lesions on the skin, such as blisters. Healing can sometimes take longer if the skin is broken. The appearance of a scar is possible.
Most common burns are minor and can be treated at home. However, more serious burns require immediate medical care. This text focuses on minor burns only and does not address the management of second or third degree burns.
It is recommended to see a doctor immediately if the burn:
If you are not sure if a burn justifies a medical visit, call a healthcare professional (for instance, your pharmacist or 811). When in doubt, see a medical professional.
Many families use a multitude of legendary cures meant to relieve and treat burns. In reality, one must be very prudent before applying anything on a burn, as any false move can make the pain worse, exacerbate the wound or increase the risk of infection.
Here are some examples of foods or substances that were traditionally recommended, but that should not be used:
Here are two other common myths:
There are five basic steps to treat a minor burn. Steps 1 and 2 are interchangeable.
It is not uncommon for a minor burn to cause discomfort or pain. If this is the case, an analgesic can be taken such as acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen, but speak to your pharmacist first. Ask him/her to help you choose the product that is most suitable for you according to your age, health, medical history, and the other medications you take. The pharmacist may also indicate the recommended dosage.
If you must administer medication to a child, ask the pharmacist to specify the dose to be given according to his/her age and weight.
The healing process may cause unpleasant itching. This is a normal part of the process and it usually fades in the days that follow the burn. However, if the itching bothers you, consider using medication, such as an oral antihistamine like diphenhydramine, which could be beneficial, especially at night. Some topical products could also be useful. Ask your pharmacist to recommend which ones.
It is important not to scratch, as this can compromise healing and increase the risk of infection.
The quality of care that you provide to all wounds influences healing and the unpleasant effects. Consequently, don’t leave anything up to chance. When a burn occurs, ask your pharmacist to help you choose products and medications that are likely to help you (cleansers, moisturizers, antibiotics, dressings, etc.). Your pharmacist is knowledgeable about first aid. Additionally, it could be helpful to purchase certain products ahead of time for your medicine cabinet. You will thank yourself for being prepared when a burn comes to cast a cloud over a family member’s day!
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