At sometime in our life, we all suffer from minor burns, from a variety of different causes, whether it be from hot water, touching something hot like the cooker or an iron, or more often than not, from the sun.
Any burn, caused by the transfer of heat, or cold, can seriously damage the skin and the structures under the skin, if not treated promptly. Consideration also needs to be given to the age of the patient, as burns to children can prove to be more serious, than the same burn to an adult, and consideration also needs to be given to the part of the body, where the burn has been sustained.
The treatment of burns, although very simple to administer, needs to be approached holistically, rather than specifically to the cause and classification of burn. The approach to adopt is SCALD:
S = SIZE. What is the size of the burn? Taking the palm of the patients hand to be equal to 1% of their body surface area, any burn where the skin is red, with an area which is equal to, or greater than 5%, should be classed as a serious burn, and medical attention should be sought, after the initial treatment has been completed.
Any burn, with a blister, or combination of blisters, which are of an area equal to, or greater than 1%, should be classed as a serious burn, and medical attention should be sought, after the initial treatment has been completed.
All full-thickness burns, where the skin has gone black, should be classed as a serious burn, and medical attention should be sought, after the initial treatment has been completed.
C = CAUSE. Consideration should be given as to what has caused the burn, whether it be dry heat, a scald, electricity, cold, chemical, or radiation
A =AGE. How old is the patient. With any burn sustained to a child or elderly person, medical attention should always be sought, after the initial treatment has been completed
L = LOCATION. What part of the body has been burnt? With any burn sustained to the face, hands, feet, groin, or any burn that goes completely around a limb or the torso, medical attention should be sought, after the initial treatment has been completed.
D = DEPTH. As detailed within the SIZE criteria, with any superficial burns, that’s burns that are red, with a surface area equal to, or greater than 5% of the body surface area, partial thickness burns, that’s burns where a blister or blisters have formed, which have a surface area, equal to, or greater than 1% of the body surface area, full thickness burns, where the skin is black, and any burns comprising of varying depths, medical attention should be sought, after the initial treatment has been completed.
The best method to treat any burn, irrespective of cause, size, or depth, is cold running water, for a minimum of 20 minutes. This can be quite difficult for the patient, as the cooling of the skin in the outer layers can be quite rapid. However, the underlying layers of skin are still retaining heat, and research shows that it can take some time for these layers of skin to cool down.
If at all possible, remove any items such as rings and watches, and clothing if you can. If you are not able to remove clothing, then pour the water over the clothing, above the affected area. On no account should you attempt to remove any clothing or other items which may have stuck to the skin.
Once you have cooled the area down, what is regarded as the best dressing for a burn is cling film. Unroll and remove the first few rounds of the role to ensure that the piece that you use is sterile. Then carefully place some clingfilm over the area of the burn. Do not wrap it tightly around the limb or body, as the area is likely to swell.
Remember, no-one has ever been sued for administering first aid, and the worst thing you can do, is to do nothing.
If you would like some first aid training in relation to these and other conditions, please do not hesitate to contact Passion First Aid on 01452 446020, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to our website, www.passionfirstaid.co.uk