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Burns can occur a number of different ways, they might be caused by touching something hot, or by coming into contact with steam or chemicals, electricity, or even be due to exposure to the sun.

The general rule for treating burns is to hold the burn under cool running water for at least 20 minutes or by pouring cool water onto the burn for at least 20 minutes. This is to cool the burn, if you cut this time short it will continue to burn and we need to make sure that the skin is fully cooled.

In some situations you may not have access to running water, this is where burn kits come in. They are commonly found in kitchens or areas where there is a higher risk of injury due to burns.

Burn dressings are gel-based, they cool the burn and importantly they don’t stick to the burn.

You need to be careful when dealing with burns. The body’s natural barrier to infection is damaged and it is therefore important to keep a burn very, very clean.

Burns can be very painful and there are different levels of burn:

Superficial burn – The outer layer of the skin has been burnt. Maybe caused by coming into brief contact with an iron or flame, the skin may be red and painful.

Partial-thickness burn – typically a burn that affects the outer layer and part of the second layer of skin this could be blistered, red, swollen and painful.

Full-thickness burn - where all of the skin layers have been burnt, this could be painful, but in many cases, the nerve endings have been damaged and there may be no pain.

A patient may be suffering from a burn that is both partial and full, where the burn is greater in the middle but less around the outside of the burn.

Things to consider when dealing with a burn injury are the age of the patient, the young and old have thinner skin, the location of the burn is also a factor.

To assess the size of the burn we use what is typically called the “Rule of Nines”;

Roughly speaking to calculate the percentage of burns;

• The hand would be 1%
• The head would be 9%
• The front of the body 18%
• The back of the body 18%
• Each leg 18%
• Each arm 9%

The severity of the burn depends on the percentage of the body affected which is calculated using the rule of nines and the severity of the burn, whether it is partial or full-thickness.

You can use this calculation to inform the Emergency Services of the situation.

There are various dressings and first aid solutions for burns, these include burn wrap, which can be used in the same way as cling-film (which is covered in a later video) there are also special dressings, gels and sprays.

When covering a burn it is important to make sure you use a burn dressing, a standard dressing will stick to the burn and pull off skin when it is removed.

If clothing is stuck to the burn, don’t peel it off, just cut around it if you think it is necessary.

Other items that are common in a burns kit are safety scissors to cut away clothing, gloves and saline solution.

  • IPOSi Unit three LO4.3, 4.4 & 5.1