First aid: How to deal with burns during Diwali
First-aid can help reduce the damage in mild cases of burns and prevent complications in extreme ones.
Burns occur when your skin or deeper tissues get damaged due to fire, heat or electricity
First-aid can help reduce the damage in mild cases and prevent complications in extreme ones
Reckless use of firecrackers can cause mild to severe burns which, if not treated on time, can be life-threatening
Diwali is undoubtedly one of the biggest festivals in India. The week-long celebration is full of colours, lights, cards, and sweets. However, it is also the time when our country sees a lot of burn cases. Reckless use of firecrackers can cause mild to severe burns which, if not treated on time, can be life-threatening.
Burns occur when your skin or deeper tissues get damaged due to fire, heat or electricity. First-aid can help reduce the damage in mild cases and prevent complications in extreme ones.
The first-aid protocol depends on the degree of the burn. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US, lists the following ways to manage the three different types of burns:
First-aid for a first-degree burn
First degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). These burns appear as redness and swelling and usually heal on their own in three to five days. Usually, there are no blisters or scarring.
- Put the burnt area under water or put a cold and wet compress over it.
- Once the pain subsides, cover the affected area with a sterile gauze or dressing.
- Do not use any ointments over the burn as it may lead to infection. However, you can take painkillers.
- Though first-degree burns are mostly superficial and nothing to worry about, if a large area of the body is burnt or if it is a baby who is burnt, take them to a doctor immediately.
First-aid for a second-degree burn
A burn that affects the epidermis and a part of the dermis is called a second-degree burn. The dermis is the layer of tissue right beneath the epidermis. It contains blood vessels and hair follicles. These burns are usually associated with blisters and extreme pain. They also take longer to heal (10-20 days) and involve scarring.
- Put the burnt area under cool running water for about 10 minutes or apply a cold compress.
- Dab dry the affected skin with a clean, dry cloth and put a sterile gauze over it.
- Do not apply ointments on the burn.
- Do not try to break any blisters.
- To prevent shock, make the victim lie flat on a surface and elevate their feet to about 12 inches. Avoid this step if the person feels uncomfortable or if he/she has an injury on the head, neck, back or legs.
- Professional care is required for a second-degree burn - whether the burn is local or covering a large area.
First-aid for a third-degree burn
A third-degree burn involves the whole of the epidermis and dermis and may even extend beneath the dermis. Third-degree burns make the skin dry and leathery with a brown, yellow or black discolouration. However, the patient may not feel any pain as the nerve endings are burnt.
A third-degree burn is the most severe and needs immediate hospitalisation. However, if it is a local burn you can do the following things to avoid complications before you get medical care:
- Cover the burnt area with a clean cloth. Avoid fabrics that may cause lint to get stuck to the affected skin.
- Do not apply any ointment on the affected skin.
- If the burn is on the face, keep the person sitting upright and check for breathing difficulty.
- If the burn is on an arm or leg, elevate the limb above the head.
- Try to make the person as comfortable as you can.
- Take necessary steps to prevent shock - make the person lie down on a flat surface and raise their feet 12 inches off the ground.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, read our article on Burns: Symptoms and Treatment.
The information provided here is intended to provide free education about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. If you believe you, your child or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision. You acknowledge and agree that neither myUpchar nor firstpost is liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred by you as a result of the information provided here, or as a result of any reliance placed by you on the completeness, accuracy or existence of any information provided herein.
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