Burns First Aid: Causes, Treatment, and FAQs

burns first aid

Oh no! Your loved one got in contact with the hot frying pan while cooking?

You don’t have to panic. Continue reading this article to learn about our burns and scalds medical aid!

We included here FACTS about identifying what type of burn your friend has. The same applies to the complete guide to correctly cooling and treating the burn.

First Aid Burns

Most of us have experienced a burn or scald, regardless of severity. Burns and scalds affect babies too!

Burns are common accidents that lead to DAMAGE to our skin. This can be caused by hot drinks or objects, flames, harmful chemicals, electrical objects, and even the sun.

Thus, you can encounter types like electrical or chemical burns in this topic.

But as aid advice, you don’t need a medical degree to prevent burns and scalds from worsening. Anyone can take easy steps to stop the burning process quickly.

Then, you can ask for professional medical attention to ensure the skin injury heals quickly.

What Causes Burns and Scalds?

Burns and scalds have different causes.

Burns are skin injuries caused by dry heat sources—fire, hot pots, and flat iron. On the other hand, scalds are commonly caused by hot drinks, boiling water, or wet heat sources.

Burns commonly result in redness of the skin, several blisters, and swelling. While a burn or a scald is painful, the scale is not entirely equal to how big the injured area is.

Sometimes, the smallest burnt area causes MORE pain than the bigger ones.

These types of injuries are not only common among grown people doing kitchen work. Burns and scalds affect babies and young ones since they are curious about things.

Thus, heat source objects should be away from young children’s sight and reach.

A burn, no matter how little, is still a serious injury.

You should PAY attention to keep yourself and the children safe from possible common, chemical, and electrical burns.

What Are the Different Types of Burns?

Just a refresher, our skin is composed of three layers. It starts with the outer layer of the skin barrier called the epidermis.

The middle layer or the tissue underneath the epidermis is called the dermis. This is where blood capillaries and sweat glands are located.

The third one is the hypodermis or also called the subcutaneous layer. It is responsible for when a person’s body temperature drops or rises.

Thus, the types are also classified into how LARGE or DEEP burns are on the patient’s skin. Remember that the type does not guarantee how painful the burn is.

Even the worst type can give patients less to no paint at all. Overall, there are four types on the list.

1) Superficial Epidermal Burn 

This type is where only the outer layer of the skin is damaged. You can see red and swollen areas, but no blisters are present.

2) Blistered Superficial Dermal Burn 

This type affects the epidermis and the dermis layers. You can already see small blisters on the pale pink-coloured burnt skin.

3) Small Blisters Deep Dermal Burn

It is also called partial thickness burn and causes redness on epidermis and dermis layerssevere burns. There are already blisters on the burnt area, with a mixture of dry or moist texture that is also swollen.

4) Full Thickness Burn

It is a more serious burn where all three layers are affected. A peeling skin swelling white or charred skin with no blisters is expected in this type. The tissue underneath the affected area can also look pale, which might be painful or not.

First Aid Treatment for Burns

Some minor burns can be treated at home. In contrast, the more serious ones need immediate medical attention.

But this doesn’t mean you should just wait for the medical emergency team to come and do nothing.

You can apply over-the-counter medication to help the patient feel better while waiting for further medical treatment.

Some patients might feel their body rises to a HIGHER temperature and have a sore throat.

The same is valid for affecting our body’s defence system or resulting in a weakened immune system in the long run.

Different burn types have various symptoms and other body effects. But, the care should always be at the TOP level.

Remember, following the steps diligently is a must. You don’t want to make the minor injuries become large or deep burns.

How to Prepare Yourself When Treating Burns?

Preparing before you treat burns is essential not to make the situation worse.

The best way to prepare is to remember all the proper steps and the things you will need.

You should remember how to assess burns and their appropriate caring processes. This leads to the steps needed for small blisters, deep dermal burns or those with white or charred skin.

You should also remember what essential objects are needed. This goes for having appropriate protective clothing and avoiding greasy substances.

How to Treat Burns and Scalds?

You should assess the type of burn. Burns are also classified as minor or major.

Assessing how serious burns are is essential to know the steps to follow.

DIFFERENT methods can be used for chemical and electrical burns. The same is true if it causes shallow breathing, charred skin, severe effects on the sweat glands, and more.

Treatment for Minor Burns

Most people see burns based on largeness and deepness. But only a FEW knows what separates minor burns from major ones.

Minor burns mostly provide painful skin. They have a diameter of fewer than 3 inches that will show redness and blisters.

If you are sure that your loved one burn is minor, then you should follow these steps:

  1. Cool the Burn – Cool the burnt area under running water, but keep the person warm. Do this for not less than 10 minutes if the burn is below your face. Use a wet cloth instead of running water on the face which is the affected part, and a piece of ice if it is the mouth.
  2. Remove Contaminated Clothing – This can prevent or reduce swelling, so you should be QUICK in doing this step.
  3. Keep Blisters as Is – Infections are the least you want the patient to experience. Keeping the blisters will help you avoid this. But you don’t have to panic if you break a few, just clean them and put an antibiotic ointment on them.
  4. Apply Lotion – You should not let the minor burn dry at this state. Thus, putting lotion and not greasy or oily products will HELP prevent this from happening while decreasing the pain, if there is any.
  5. Put a Bandage on the Burn – You should put the bandage loosely. It will protect the area from the air and the blisters from breaking. You can also use a cling film or a clean plastic bag if the affected area is on the patient’s hand or foot.
  6. Take a Pain Reliever – This is only an extra step if the patient has difficulty injuring the pain. Thus, we recommend ibuprofen or naproxen sodium for this.

While a minor burn is still a serious accident, some can be treated WITHOUT needing professional medical attention.

But, it is a different story for facial burns. People need special medical attention when the delicate areas of the body are affected—the eye, mouth, and genitals.

Treatment for Major Burns

Major burns are those large or deep burns with a diameter of more than 3 inches.

Most of them are peeling skin, swelling white, or charred skin burns. At the same time, some of these burns can also be black.

This type of burn requires IMMEDIATE medical attention from professionals. Major burns are common from electrical objects or chemical substances.

Another common cause of more serious burns is heat exhaustion, like being caught in a fire. This is why most patients may have shortness of breath or sore throat.

But, while waiting for the emergency team to arrive, you can do the following steps to help the patient:

  1. Avoid Elements That Can Cause More Harm for the Patient – Take away the chemicals or dry heat source. The same is true for putting out the domestic electricity supply, depending on the cause of the burn.
  2. Make Sure the Patient Is Still Breathing – If not, go or find someone who knows the proper rescue breathing.
  3. Remove Patient’s Tight Items – Do this, especially on the burned area. One effect of burns is swelling, and it is important not to HINDER its development via familiar objects.
  4. Put a Cover on the Burn – Put a cling film loosely to cover the affected area. If you don’t have any, clean cloth will do.
  5. Lift the Burned Area – If the affected area is on the hand or feet, raise it above the heart level. This act can help reduce swelling.
  6. Be Mindful of a Sudden Shock – Most major burns patients will have a shock. Thus, you should OBSERVE symptoms like weak pulse, breathing, and clammy skin.

Half an hour should be enough, and the patient will feel better after these steps, especially for those with heat exhaustion.

How to Treat Electrical Burns

Electrical burns are just one of the many severe burns that need medical attention.

From the name itself, lighting or electrical objects in the house can cause electrical burns. Large areas of the body are commonly affected by this kind of injury.

It has three types: the first, second, and third degrees.

First-Degree Burn

This is the superficial dermal burn mentioned above, where the epidermis is the layer affected.

Thus, the steps you should do are also QUITE similar.

  1. Cool the Burns – get a bowl of cool, not cold, water and submerge the burned area.
  2. Take Pain Relievers – you can take ibuprofen or other types to make the pain bearable.
  3. Use Aloe Vera – another step to make the burn less painful is the application of aloe vera.

Second-Degree Burn

This electrical burn stage is what the Blistered Superficial Dermal Burn discussed above.

Since it is deeper, you need to add MORE steps to what is mentioned in the previous list.

  1. Cool the Burns instead of a bowl, you should cool the affected area with running water for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Take Pain Relievers
  3. Put Antibiotic Ointment on Blisters – avoid putting greasy substances like oil and butter as alternatives.
  4. Don’t Break Blisters

Third-Degree Burn

Medical attention is a MUST in this stage.

Many severe burns, in this case, may require surgery to repair damaged tissues on the remaining skin. Skin graft surgery is even needed sometimes to replace damaged skin.

The latter is essential for better blood and infection prevention for the patient.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A person’s health should always be at the TOP of our priorities. Thus, we prepared more burns and scalded information for you to be more knowledgeable about the topic.

How Do You Know a Burn Is Healing?

Most people associate healing with lesser pain, decreased redness, and reduced swelling.

While they are true in most cases, some burns will produce little to NO pain.

A better take is when you can already observe growth on the remaining skin. This is a development from the burned area tissues and sweat that are not damaged completely.

Through time, this growth on your skin will compile together into creating a THICK area. This is why skin graft surgery is most of the time needed for large burns.

How Do You Shower With a Burn?

Taking a cool shower helps cool down the burnt area. Sunburn can even heal fast with this method.

It is also one of the ways to keep the injury clean and fast to heal.

But, you have to KEEP IN MIND the points below to make sure the burn will heal and not get worse:

  • Keep the water cold
  • Decrease the pressure of the running water
  • Focus the water more on the burnt area


Home accidents mostly cause burns and scalds.

Thus, keep your loved ones in check. Always check what harmful objects your children can reach. Keeping hot drinks away from them is one way to avoid burn accidents.

When taking a bath, keeping matches away from young children’s sight is also a must.

But in case a serious accident like this happens again, at least you already know the right things to do.

Don’t hesitate to return to this guide if you forget a step.

Our complete guide to emergency medical aid for burns and scalds is always available!

If you would like to learn more about first aid, we provide a range of low-cost first aid courses nationwide.

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