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Burnt handBurns are commonplace both at home and in the workplace. Around 175,000 people every year visit the accident and emergency department in hospitals for burns.

Although most people would consider temperatures of boiling water (100 deg.C) or more to cause burns, temperatures as low as 60 deg. C in children and 69 deg. C in adults can cause even full thickness burns.

Burns can be caused in many ways, the obvious ones are hot objects, liquids, etc.  However, less obvious causes include electrical, radiation, cryogenics (cold burns) and chemical burns.  Friction is another source of heat.  Motorcycle riders can experience burns as their clothing melts by heat generated through friction with the road.  Note: that frying oil is around 150C!

Temperatures as low as 60 deg. C in children and 69 deg. C in adults can cause even full thickness burns.

In every home, venue and workplace there will be the potential for burn injuries, how they are dealt with can be the difference between minor or major scaring and even life or death. [hr]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Did you know that a large number of people still believe that the correct treatment for burns is putting butter on it?  This of course cooks the injury even more by inhibiting cooling.[/box]

So how should you treat burns?

  • Stop the burning process quickly, removing casualty from  the source
  • Remove clothing or jewellery from affected area – but don’t try to remove anything stuck to burnt skin
  • Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm water for 10 to 30 minutes.  Do not use iced water, creams or greasy substances such as butter
  • Use clothing or blankets to keep the casualty warm, but keep affected areas clear
  • Cover the wound with clingfilm, it only binds with itself and will not stick to the wound.  It will prevent infection however. Ensure clingfilm is applied by unrolling it along the limb, rather than wrapping it around the limb. This approach will prevent swelling making the clingfilm becoming too tightly applied
  • Pain can be treated with paracetemol, follow normal manufacturer guidance.