Should You Cover a Burn or Let it Breathe?

July 14, 2023

Whether to cover or let the affected area breathe is a common concern when treating burns. The answer depends on the severity of the burn and the stage of the healing process. In this blog, we will explore the different degrees of burns, how to treat burns at home properly, and when to seek medical attention.

For same-day medical care, visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Lyndhurst. The center is open seven days a week– simply walk-in at your convenience!

Understanding Burn Degrees

Burns are of three degrees based on their severity and the layers of skin affected.

First-Degree Burns

These are superficial burns and only affect the outer layer of the skin. Some of their symptoms are swelling, redness, and pain. Typically, home remedies are sufficient for managing first-degree burns.

Second-Degree Burns

These burns penetrate the skin deeper, affecting the outer and underlying layers. Symptoms include blistering, severe pain, redness, and swelling. You may require medical attention for second-degree burns, primarily if they are spread over a large area or are on the face, hands, feet, or other sensitive areas.

Third-Degree Burns

The most severe type of burn, third-degree burns, extends through all layers of the skin and may involve underlying tissues. Symptoms include charred or white skin, numbness, and severe pain. Third-degree burns always require immediate medical attention.

How to Properly Treat Burns at Home

For first-degree burns, it is generally safe to treat them at home. Follow these steps:

Cool the burn

Hold the burn under cool (not cold) running water for 10-20 minutes to help reduce pain and prevent further damage.

Clean the burn

Cleanse the burn using a gentle soap and water combination to eliminate fragments or grime.

Apply a burn ointment

After cleaning, apply a thin layer of a burn ointment or Aloe Vera gel to soothe the burn and promote healing.

Cover the burn

For first-degree burns, covering them with a non-stick sterile dressing or a clean cloth to protect the area from dirt and bacteria is acceptable.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While many burns are treatable at home, there are instances when it is crucial to seek medical attention.

Second-Degree Burns

Suppose a second-degree burn is more extensive than three inches in diameter or located on the face, hands, feet, genitals, or major joints. In that case, it should be under the supervision of a medical professional.

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns always require immediate medical attention. Contact emergency services or proceed to the closest emergency department.

Signs of Infection

Seek medical assistance if a burn exhibits indications of infection, like heightened discomfort, inflammation, swelling, discharge, or an unpleasant scent.

Other Factors

Seek medical care if you are unsure about the severity of the burn or if chemicals, electricity, or an explosion caused the burn.

Visit AFC Urgent Care Lyndhurst For Mild Burn Treatment

The approach to covering or letting a burn breathe depends on the severity and stage of the burn. While first-degree burns can typically be under covers to protect the area, second-degree burns or higher, more significant burns, or burns that show signs of infection require medical attention. Remember to always prioritize safety and seek appropriate medical help when needed. If you have any additional questions about burn treatment, please call our center directly at (201) 345-3839.

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