First Aid for Burns: How do you treat burns?

First Aid for Burns: How do you treat burns?

Burns may be caused by chemicals substances, flames, ultraviolet radiation, electricity, hot liquid, and lightning. Some burns can be life-threating if first aid or procedure is delayed. Burns which condition are partial and full-thickness requisite to seek immediate medical attention.

Types of burns

Superficial (first-degree burn): damage to the top of the skin layer. It will be red and sore on the burn sites.

Partial-thickness (second-degree burn): damage the top and second layer of the skin. It will be red, blister, swelling with clear or yellow-colored fluid leaking from the skin, and peeling from the burning sites.

Full thickness (third degree): damage both top, second, and underlying tissue. Black or charred with white exposed fatty tissue, damage the underlying muscle or bone on the sites burning.

Evaluation of burn

The following table demonstrates the percentage of body surface area according to age. It helps to accurately calculate the percentage of body surface area (BSA) following the victim’s age.

Location< 1y1 – 4y5 – 9y10 – 15yAdults
Anterior trunk1313131313
Posterior trunk1313131313
Right buttock2.
Left buttock2.
Right upper arm44444
Left upper arm44444
Right lower arm33333
Left lower arm33333
Right hand2.
Left hand2.
Right thigh5.
Left thigh5.
Right leg55555
Left leg55555
Right foot3.
Left foot3.

                                                                                                     (Medicins San Frontier, 2019)

Classifications of burn

Sever burn:

  • More than 10% of BSA in children and 15% in adults
  • Breathing injury caused by smoke, hot air, particles, toxic gas, etc.
  • Major concomitant trauma; fracture, head injury, etc.
  • Burn sites; face, hands, neck, neck, genitalia/perineum, joints.
  • Electrical and chemical burn or burn due to explosions.
  • Age less than 3 years or higher than 60 years or significant co-morbidities; epilepsy, malnutrition.

Minor burn:

  • Less than 10% of BSA in children and 15% in adults.
  • There is an absence of other harmful factors.

First aid for burns


  • Remove the victim from hazard and further hurt.
  • Hold the burn under cool running water (not cold water) for 20 minutes.
  • Burnt clothing should only undress it if it does not stick to the burn. Please attention does not undress clothing that is stuck to the burn.
  • Mush be washed off with running water for at least 20 minutes for chemical burn (acids and alkalis). However, be careful not to splash the chemical onto unaffected skin or other people.
  • The superficial burn needs pain relief, dressing, and regularly observe to assure the injured sites do not become infected.
  • Do not apply anything other than water to seconder or third-degree burn, wait until they are completely cooled and assessed by healthcare providers.
  • Drink plenty of water if the victim displays to be dehydrated.
  • Call paramedic or emergency service to seek immediate care for major burns.
First aid for burns


  • Do not apply ice, it may cause further skin or injuries area damage. 
  • Please attention does not undress clothing that is stuck to the burn.
  • Do not use any ointment, butter or other remedies on the injured areas. Those substances may trap the heat in the tissue and make the injure or burnt worse than before.
  • Do not break any blisters.
  • Do not delay seeking medical treatment if you have a major burn.

Complications of major burns

  • Infection.
  • Heat loss or hypothermia caused by burnt sites are unable to regulate the temperature in the body.
  • Hypovolaemia: which caused by loss of fluid from burn sites.
  • Smoke inhalation caused lung injury.

Self-care requisite for burns

Your healthcare provider will be guided you according to the burn degree that you had and assure every step is secure for you to do by yourself. But common advice such as:

  • Assure you rest as much as you can.
  • Follow all self-care advice from your healthcare providers.
  • Avoid moving or stretching the injured areas or if you have a skin graft.
  • Follow medicine adherence that prescribed by your healthcare provider such as antibiotic are mostly prescribed to decrease the risk of infection in burnt areas.
  • Prevent your dressing wound from wet.
  • Seeking help from your healthcare providers straight away if you have any uncommon symptoms.


  1. Clinical guideline: Burns. (2019). Medicins San Frontiers.
  2. Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2020, from Burns and scalds:
  3. American Burn. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2020, from Initial first aid treatment for minor burns:
  4. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2020, from Management of burns:

Add comment