Burns usually don't occur while riding your bike. But, maybe you spilled coffee on
yourself after the ride. So for the sake of completeness, here's the straight dope on
The seriousness of a burn depends on the size of the burn, location of the burn, and the
depth of the burn. Partial thickness burns
include first-degree (where the skin is red and tender) and second-degree (with blisters
or loose skin and oozing). Full thickness burns, also called third-degree burns, require
special care and should be seen by the doctor.
Turn to the
side of the heel, resulting from touching the foot against the tailpipe while riding a
||Third-degree (full thickness) burns are usually white in color. If red,
the burn does NOT blanch when pressure is placed on the skin. The skin usually feels thick
and stiff -- it doesn't stretch and bend like normal skin. Because the nerve fibers are
"cooked," a pinprick won't be felt in the burned area.
is a third-degree burn of the upper arm. The patient doesn't feel the pinprick.
|Burns of critical areas like the hands, face, or genitals are best managed
by the doctor. Scarring in these areas can be a problem. Very small burns on the hand
(less than a thumbprint's size) are usually safe to treat at home, however. On the rest of
the body, any burn larger than the victim's palm should be seen by the physician.
This child fell into a campfire. Note the large blisters on the
back of the hand. The pale areas on the tops of the middle and ring fingers are third
degree burn. This type of "specialty burn" is best managed by a burn center,
such as the University of Utah Medical Center.
Like any other skin injury, second- and third-degree burns can become infected. Deep
second-degree burns (and third-degree burns) will usually leave a scar. Burned skin must
be protected, yet it must be stretched as it heals so the scar doesn't limit mobility.
See the doctor if:
any burn is larger than the victim's palm
a burn is in a critical area (hand, face, genitals)
pain can't be controlled.
Put Burn Free pads or gel over the burn. Elevate the injured part. When pain is
controlled, place a dressing. Usually, a non-stick pad, then gauze, then a kling wrap
protects a modest-sized burn well. If burn involves surfaces that will touch (such as
adjacent fingers or toes), be sure the dressing separates the surfaces so they don't
Change the dressing daily. If the bandage sticks, soak it in warm water with a drop of
soap. Dilute hydrogen peroxide can help soften a thickly crusted bandage. Depending on the
depth of the burn, healing can take from 1 week to 4 weeks.
See the doctor if there is redness around the wound, red streaks, swelling, drainage,
fever, tender bumps in the groin or armpit upsteam from the burn, or an unexplained
increase in pain or tenderness. See section on infection.
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