How to treat a burn from boiling water

Virtually everyone has gotten burned at some point in his or her life. From a cooking skillet handle to popping grease or a hot water splash, most of us are familiar with the pink or reddish mark of a minor injury caused by heat or flame. Hopefully it healed quickly and did not leave a permanent scar.

Larger burns must be treated by medical experts, some on an emergency basis, such as those caused by spilling boiling water on your skin or having a battery explode in your face. On the other hand, minor burns may be cared for at home, at the office, or by a friend or family member. If in doubt, call your doctor or the local hospital’s emergency room to ask for instructions. A serious burn can lead to complete body shock and infection or death, so be sure to deal with it promptly and efficiently.

A minor burn should be no larger than a penny, perhaps, and remain on the skin’s surface. There should be no swelling, blistering, peeling, charring, or whitened appearance to the skin, nor should it large or deep. If any of these things occur, call your doctor immediately. The most obvious sign of a mild burn is a tingling or slightly painful sensation, perhaps accompanied by a light pink or soft reddening of the affected skin area.

Turn on the tap water to a cool temperature, not cold, and let it run gently over the burned skin. Better yet, while doing this, collect a cup or bowl of cool water and place the affected part in it if possible, like a finger or hand. If you cannot, dip a clean cloth in the cool water, wring it out, fold it to a manageable size, and place it over the burn. Change it every few minutes to keep the cloth cool. This will halt the interior burning process and may reduce the amount of irritation or pain that is felt.

Inspect the burn after a few minutes. If it looks blistered or deep red, you probably should call and ask the doctor for the next step. Chances are she’ll want to see it and be sure no further treatment is needed. Otherwise, continue cooling the area in water a few more minutes. Remove it from the water, and pat dry gently with a clean towel.

You may want to add a healing moisturizing cream for burns if you have it. Don’t put any type of cream on the burn, because some can irritate tender or damaged skin. Use only cream or lotion that is meant for burns.

Then apply a loose bandage. This will help to keep the area clean and promote healing without undue pressure. Check the burn a couple times a day to be sure it is healing properly. If redness, a streak, or swelling should develop, contact your doctor.

A mild burn can be treated at home with the right precautions. But call your doctor if you have any doubts about the nature of your burn injury.

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