Third-degree burns. Third-degree burns are worst
of all. The skin is destroyed, and possibly also the tissue
and muscle beneath it. The skin may be charred, or it
may be white and lifeless (from scalds). After the initial
injury, pain may be less severe because of destroyed
nerve ends. There may be chilling of the body. Some
form of shock will result.
Probably the most important aspect is the extent of
the burned area. A first-degree burn covering a large
area could be more serious than a small third-degree
burn. A sunburn, for example, ranging from mild to
serious, is easily obtained, particularly if you arent
accustomed to the exposure. If you fall asleep while
sunbathing, possible second- or even third-degree burns
might occur and could be fatal.
The most effective immediate treatment of burns
and of pain is as follows:
If the burn area covers less than 20% of the
body, immerse the burned area in cold water, or apply
cold compresses if immersion is impracticable. Cold
water not only minimizes pain but also reduces the
burning effect in the deeper layers of the skin. Gently
pat dry the area with lint-free cloth or gauze.
If the burn area covers more than 20% of the
body, apply sterile, dry bandages. Aspirin is also
effective for the relief of pain. Continue treatment until
no pain is felt when the burned area is exposed to the air.
Burn victims require large amounts of water, which
should be slightly salted. Because of the nature of the
injury, most burns are sterile. Therefore, the best
treatment for uninfected burns is merely to protect the
area by covering it with the cleanest (preferably sterile)
Some actions that should not be taken when dealing
with burns are as follows:
Never apply ointments to a burn or use
Dont attempt to break blisters or to remove
shreds of tissue or adhered particles of charred
Never apply a greasy substance (butter, lard, or
Vaseline), antiseptic preparations, or
o i n t m e n t s .
T h e s e
m a y
c a u s e
f u r t h e r
complications and interfere with later treatment
by medical personnel.
REVIEW 6 QUESTIONS
Q1. Define the following types of burns:
a. First-degree burn
b. Second-degree burn
c. Third-degree burn
Q2. If a burn covers less than 20% of a victims body,
you should immerse the burned area in cold
water or apply cold compresses. Why should you
take these actions?
Q3. If a burn covers more than 20% of a victims
body, what actions should you take?
Q4. When treating burns, you should NEVER take
which of the following actions?
a. Apply petrolatum gauze
b. Break blisters
c. Apply butter, lard, or Vaseline
d. Each of the above
Learning Objective: When you finish this chapter, you
will be able to
Recognize the symptoms of and first-aid
treatment for heat-related illnesses.