Burns: Types, Symptoms & Treatment
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First Aid Guide for Burns

First aid training is an important, life-saving skill that everyone must know. Accidents can happen anywhere, and through first aid, you can prevent a situation from becoming worse while you are waiting for medical assistance to arrive. One of its main goals is to provide immediate assistance to a sick or injured person. While waiting for comprehensive medical attention, first aid for burns can keep the issue from deteriorating.

First aid’s five main objectives

Keep the victim alive

Two instances of saving a life in first aid training are performing CPR or attending to the person who seems to be choking.

Stop the illness or injury from worsening

Learn how to treat wounds and control the bleeding to stop more harm or spread.

Encourage recovery

This includes cleaning, disinfecting and bandaging a wound. Apply an antiseptic ointment to fasten the healing process. 

Relief from pain

Pain relief medication should be given only if it doesn’t put the patient at risk. It is always preferable to consult a medical professional first to avoid any risk.

Protect the unconscious victim

A person who is unconscious needs to be moved securely from a hazardous area, such as a busy road or fire, to a location where it is safer. During first aid training, you will also learn how to place an unconscious person so that their breathing passages are not blocked. An unconscious person should be protected to provide security before emergency assistance arrives.

Burns: Types, Symptoms & Treatment

A burn is a damaged skin tissue due exposure to heat, sunshine, electricity, chemicals, or harmful radiation. Burns vary in degree of seriousness. The degree of a burn is assessed by your healthcare professional. It is based on two factors like the depth of the burn and the area of skin that is affected. Burns may cause pain. A burn that is untreated could get infected. Any burns or scalds must be treated as quickly as possible with the correct first aid so that your skin sustains less harm. 

Classification of burns:

Healthcare professionals categorize burns by severity levels called ‘degrees.’ Your doctor will assess the severity of the skin injury. Burn degrees consist of the following:

1st-degree burns:

These are mild, like most sunburns. Although the epidermis, the top layer of skin, often becomes red and uncomfortable. It rarely blisters.

2nd-degree burns:

The upper and lower layers of skin (dermis) get affected in second-degree burns. You might feel hurt, red, swollen, and blistered.

3rd-degree burns:

All three layers of skin, epidermis, dermis, and fat, are affected by third-degree burns. They also damage sweat glands and hair follicles. They harm nerve endings, so you usually won’t feel pain directly where the burn is but if nearby. Burned skin might appear leathery and can be black, red, or white.

Symptoms of Burns

The initial hours or days after a burn are painful because the symptoms worsen during this time. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Charred or white skin
  • Skin peeling

First Aid for Burns

Apply the following steps of first aid for burns to a minor burn victim, including yourself:

  1. To cool down the burnt area, keep the affected region under cool (not cold) flowing water for a minimum of 10 minutes. If the face seems burnt, apply a cool, moist cloth to the affected area until the pain subsides. In case of mouth burn from hot food or drink, you can keep a piece of ice in your mouth for a few minutes.
  2. From the burning area, remove rings or any other pieces of accessories. Remove these carefully before the swelling occurs.
  3. Avoid popping blisters as they serve as a defense against infection. If the blisters burst, apply an antibiotic ointment to the region after gently cleaning the blister with water.
  4. Apply a moisturizer, such as one containing aloe vera, once the burn has cooled. This offers relief and prevents dryness.

If you work where you need to train your staff to care for a burnt victim, it’s a good idea to make and distribute a “First Aid for Burns” pdf amongst your coworkers. They can choose to print and pin up this pdf on their workstation or make large-size posters. You can keep this handy at home as well. You can also consider taking a First Aid course from the American CPR Care Association that will equip you with the knowledge to handle burn victims.


The best outcome of first aid for burns depends on how prompt the intervention was in the event of a burn injury. Think about purchasing or making your first aid kit. You should also register for an online First Aid certification course from American CPR Care Association that will help you assist a coworker or a family member if and when they get a burn injury.


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