Blackmores burns


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Although most household burns are mild and heal quickly, severe burns can have serious consequences, and require medical care.


Burns are graded according to their severity and the depth to which they penetrate the tissues:

  • Superficial (first degree): Only the top layer of skin is affected. The affected area is red and painful, but is not blistered. The skin may turn white when pressed. Sunburn is a common example.
  • Partial thickness (second degree): The burn penetrates the first and second layers of skin, causing blistering, swelling and the discharge of a clear or yellowish fluid. The affected area is red, and the pain tends to be severe. Partial thickness burns require immediate medical attention if they are greater than 5 cm in diameter, or if they affect a major joint or the airways, hands, face, feet, groin or buttocks.
  • Full thickness (third degree): The tissues beneath the skin (bones, muscles, organs) are also damaged.  The area may be blackened or charred, with visible areas of bone or fatty tissue, which appear white.  The site of the full thickness burn may not be painful due to the destruction of nerve endings in the region, but areas surrounding it will be extremely painful if they’ve been subjected to partial thickness burns.
  • Most minor burns heal quickly and easily, however deeper burns take longer to heal and in some cases cause scarring and restrict movement. Emotional and other problems may also occur.
  • A major burn is one that affects more than 20% of the surface area of an adult’s body, or more than 10% of a child’s body. Burns of this magnitude represent a medical emergency – call for an ambulance immediately.
  • Electrical burns may not produce any visible symptoms, but may cause extensive internal damage. Additionally, the person may fall or be thrown against a hard surface, causing additional injury.


Burns are caused by exposure to excessive heat, for example the sun (UV radiation), tanning beds, hot liquids, flames, electricity, some chemicals, radiation therapy.

Although adults are more likely to be burned by open flames, scalds from hot liquids are a particular hazard for children and older adults.

Injuries that involve a combination of an abrasion and heat cause friction burns. The injuries experienced by cyclists and motorcyclists that are commonly referred to as ‘road rash’ are an example of this.

Natural therapies

  • Zinc is beneficial to skin repair and wound healing, and taking it may improve the speed at which burns heal.
  • Vitamin C is also involved in wound healing.

Diet and lifestyle

  • As severe burns can be extremely serious, appropriate first aid is vital. Prevent the cause of the burn from causing any further damage by extinguishing any fire and removing or moving away from any hazard.
  • Call for an ambulance if a large part of the body is burned, if breathing is affected, or if the burn is severe.
  • Unless the burn is severe or affects a large part of the body, hold the injured part under cool (not icy) running water for at least 20 minutes, discontinuing if the patient becomes shivery or feels cold. It may be helpful to wrap unaffected body parts in a blanket to prevent heat loss.
  • Any burn with broken skin will require cleaning and dressing in order to prevent infection. Follow your doctor’s instructions for burn care, changing the dressing and washing the burn as advised.
  • Aloe vera gel may help to relieve the sting of sunburn and other first-degree burns.
  • Prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to the safety of children. Always turn the handles of saucepans towards the back of the stove, and don’t leave them unattended. Take care to keep hot drinks and liquids away from children, and test the temperature of food before serving it to children.
  • Make sure that your home is equipped with functional fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, and that your first aid kit includes a fire blanket.
  • Follow these principles to reduce the risk of sun burn and skin cancer:
    - Slip on protective clothing when in the sun
    - Slop on sunscreen with a high (30+) SPF rating 20 minutes before sun exposure and then every two hours
    - Slap on a broad-brimmed hat
    - Stay in the shade whenever possible

Important notes

  • Seek urgent medical attention for any burns that are severe or extensive (larger than the patient’s palm). Note that children and babies are at increased risk of tissue damage and dehydration, and may need medical care even in situations where an adult would not.
  • If you’ve experienced a burn, keep an eye out for signs of infection, which include redness, fever, swelling, pus or other discharges from the affected area, and increased pain levels

If any of these occur consult your doctor.

  • Urgent medical attention is also required for:
    - Any burn affecting the eyes, face, hands, feet, genitals or airways
    - Any burn that causes blisters or breaks the skin
    - Any burn that contains foreign particles
    - Any burn that is not improved within one day of occurring
    - Any burn that extends all the way around a body part
    - Any electrical  burn
    - Any burn accompanied by smoke inhalation