Treat burns in the following ways:
- Cool the burned area with moist, clean, cool cloths.
- Rinse with tap water, and clean with soap and water.
- Apply a layer of silver sulfadiazine cream (Silvadene) morning and evening. (Do not use Silvadene near the eyes.) Cover with gauze dressings. Clean off all Silvadene cream with soap and water with each dressing change.
- Blisters may rupture. Remove the dead skin with sterile scissors and tweezers.
- Flush chemical burns with water until all burning pain has stopped. Remove all contaminated clothes.
- Oral antibiotics are usually recommended to prevent infection. If infection develops, continue antibiotics for at least five days after all signs of infection have gone away. Let the doctor know about any drug allergies so the right antibiotic can be prescribed. Some oral antibiotics can cause sensitivity to the sun, so use a sunscreen (at least SPF 15).
- Pain may be relieved with 1-2 acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 4 hours or 1-2 ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) every 6-8 hours.
- Patients with facial burns, evidence of potential lung involvement (for example, soot in mouth), circumferential limb or torso burns, 20 or 30 burns of 10 % or greater body surface burns may require specialized treatment that address the various needs such as airway protection and function, fluid loss and hydration problems, pain control and other burn-related problems. This specialized treatment(s) are usually instituted in conjunction with several specialists in a Trauma center.
8 First Aid Kit Essentials for Scrapes, Cuts, Bug Bites, and More in Pictures
When to Seek Medical Care for Burns
- Serious burns and burns to the hands, face, feet, or genitals; those that circumscribe (go completely around) an extremity (arm or leg); or those that involve more than 10% of the body require immediate emergency medical attention. The burn percentage in adults: rule of nines helps determine the percent of the body affected. The surface of one's palm is about 1% body surface area. The patient with limb or life-threatening burns should be transported by ambulance to the nearest Trauma center hospital by ambulance, or if available, a trauma/burn center.
- Consult a doctor for treatment with available medications and advanced treatment facilities; usually this is a doctor trained in the care of burns who is located in a regional burn center hospital. Many times, severely burned patients after they are stabilized, are transferred to such burn centers.
How Do Doctors Estimate Burn Areas on Adults and Children?
Adult body surface-area burn estimate diagram. A child's body surface-area burn estimate diagram.
Reviewed on 1/9/2019
Medically reviewed by Joseph Palermo, DO; American Osteopathic Board Certified Internal Medicine
MedscapeReference.com. Emergent Management of Thermal Burns.
MedscapeReference.com. Chemical Burns in Emergency Medicine.