Q: As the cold weather moves in, we have neighbors over for bonfires quite a bit. If someone were to get a burn, how should we treat it on our way to the doctor?
A: This is a great question because it gives me a chance to help remove some possible misconceptions about burn care and give people some simple information to help in the event of a burn injury. I worked for three years at a tertiary burn center in Texas several years back and witnessed how patients were given numerous home remedies prior to seeing our staff. They ranged from Crisco, to butter or margarine, Vaseline, and lotions. While these remedies usually weren’t harmful, these rarely helped the burn and were painful to rub off. There are a few very simple general rules that will help you before you see a professional about a burn injury. First, once you recognize an injury from a burn, get cool water on it immediately. This will both soothe burned skin and potentially reduce the depth of burn injury. Second, drink water! Burns not only injure skin, but your body needs more fluid to counteract the effect on your whole body. So while you are arranging transportation, drink water. Finally, don’t wait to be seen. If you have burned or blistered skin, please seek immediate help—a burn that looks small may be worse than you think. Depending on its location, a burn can have very long lasting consequences if not treated quickly (think hands or face). One important message to tailgaters: alcohol and fires are a dangerous combination, so be smart. At Doctors Express, we have three locations and experienced providers to help you with urgent needs like burns and many others!
Todd Rudolph, M.D.
170 Mouse Creek Rd.
Cleveland, TN 37312