As anyone who has been on more than one first aid course knows, guidance changes and evolves as new research and techniques are explored. It is our continuing objective at Tigerlily Training to ensure that we are at the forefront of first aid guidance and innovation, in order to best prepare our First Aiders to deal with injuries and emergencies.
Unfortunately, the subject of burns is riddled with myths which must be busted to avoid risk of worsening an injury. New research conducted by the University of Queensland, Australia has now been adopted here in the UK. This research not only proven that current first aid guidance helps with recovery from a burn, but also busted a few myths and provided some further best practice for the immediate treatment of a burn:
MYTH: Cold water out of the tap is too cold to cool a burn!
Incorrect – the Australian research on burns was done at a temperature of just 2˚C and was shown to aid the healing process. Best practice is to use running water from the cold tap. However, the guidance of not putting ice on a burn remains in effect.
MYTH: Olive oil, butter and toothpaste aid the healing of a burn.
Incorrect – these have all been proven to damage skin tissues and increase the risk of infection. Applying these in lieu of running water can mean the skin is not cooled effectively and the burn depth increasing. However, if cold water is not immediately available, you may use any cold drink (such as milk or a canned drink) until a source of water is found.
MYTH: If I have a burn dressing, I don’t need to cool the burn with running water.
Incorrect – whilst burn dressings have advantageous properties in the treatment of a burn, the use of cold running water is still the best way to ensure that burn is sufficiently cooled to stop the burn depth increasing. Burn dressings can then be applied as per guidance on the package of the dressing in use.
MYTH: Popping blisters aids the healing process.
Incorrect – popping a blister can lead to the area becoming infected and slows the healing process. We should be doing the opposite and be protecting blisters and a pharmacist can provide you with guidance on how best to protect a blister. However, if you are concerned that a blister is large, recurrent, infected or not going away after a week – see your GP.
UPDATE: Cooling has increased to from 10 mins to 20 mins cold running water.
This has been proven to further help with burn depth, infection avoidance and skin regeneration. The sooner the burn is cooled the risk of further deterioration decreases, however even if the burn is up to 3hrs old the need to cool a burn still remains.
Current Treatment for a Burn
- Cool the injured area for 20mins with cold running water
- Remove anything constrictive such as watches, rings or tight clothing (if possible)
- Cover the burn with cling film or a burn dressing
- Seek further medical advise (especially for a child or infant)
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