The American Burn Association reported that over 450,000 people get serious burns each year in the United States. Burn injuries are not only painful but can also lead to complications if not treated correctly.
Unfortunately, many misconceptions surround the proper care for burns, often stemming from age-old beliefs or passed-down advice from older generations. These misconceptions can prevent someone from getting the appropriate care they need, possibly leading to infections, scars or more severe outcomes. By debunking these myths and understanding the correct steps to take after receiving a burn, you can ensure a faster, safer recovery.
Apply ice or cold water immediately
One common misconception is that applying ice or very cold water directly to a severe burn will soothe the pain and promote healing. While it seems logical to cool a burn, applying ice can cause more damage to the already injured skin. Instead, you should run cool (not cold) water over the burn for about ten minutes or until the pain subsides, then pat dry gently with a soft, clean cloth.
Use butter or toothpaste
Another widespread myth is the idea of applying butter, toothpaste or other household products to a burn. While these items might offer a temporary cooling sensation, they can trap heat, making the burn worse. Furthermore, these substances can introduce bacteria to the wound, leading to infection. Instead, keep the burn clean and use a sterile bandage or wrap.
Blisters may form on a burn, and a prevalent misconception is that popping them aids in the healing process. However, blisters serve as a protective layer for the underlying skin. Breaking them can expose the raw skin beneath to potential infections. Allow blisters to heal on their own, and if they break, keep the area clean and apply an antibiotic ointment.
No need for medical attention for small burns
While minor burns might seem non-threatening, determining the severity is important. Some burns can appear minor initially but can have more profound impacts. If you experience extreme pain, notice white or charred skin or have burns on the hands, feet, face or over a major joint, seek medical attention immediately.
Uunderstanding the correct procedures for treating burns and ignoring common misconceptions can drastically impact the healing process. When in doubt, always consult with a healthcare professional about the best care for your injury. Remember, acting quickly and appropriately can make all the difference in preventing complications and ensuring a speedy recovery after a burn.