Burns Expert Forum
Cooking burn
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This forum is for questions and support regarding burn issues such as: Hand burns, Pediatric Burns, Thermal burns, Electrical burns, Chemical burns, Radiation burns, Rehab/Recovery, Pain control, Psychological / Social Recovery, Scar Management, Smoke inhalation, Disaster Management, Skin and Soft Tissue Infections.

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Cooking burn

while cooking I open a pot ans the steam rose up and burned my arm.
I believe there are blisters forming, in total the area affected is an
4" by 3"  oval shape.  At present we have ice on it but what is the
best way to treat this.


Fredy
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The initial priority in the treatment of any burn is to stop the burning process.  This is best accomplished by the application of room temperature water the injured area.  Many people will choose to apply ice to a burned area.  The application of ice seems to stop the burning as well as provide some degree of pain relief.  The application of ice to a freshly burned area is not typically recommended by experienced burn providers; however, the science behind this practice is somewhat controversial.

There are several zones to a burn and one of the zones is known as the zone of stasis.  In this zone for blood supply is decreased in the tissue in this zone is susceptible to recovery or to death depending on the blood flow in this area.  A decrease in blood flow will result in the cells or tissue dying and as a result the burn will actually be larger and/or deeper.  For example, imagine taking your hand and plunging it into a bucket of ice water.  When you pour your hand out you will see that your fingers are often pale perhaps even blue.  This is because the small blood vessels in the fingers will actually constrict decreasing blood flow to the fingers because of the effect of the cold.  Now is go back to our burn.  We've said that the zone of stasis is susceptible of lying or possible recovery depending on the blood flow following the injury.  If we apply ice to the burn, the blood vessels will constrict decreasing the blood flow and decreasing the oxygen.  The result is that the susceptible tissue as a decrease blood flow, decreased oxygen, and probable cell death.  The result is a larger burn or deeper burn.  Though ice feels good is a particularly good for the fresh burn.  I think we would all agree that medications designed to provide pain relief or perhaps better than ice.  In large and critical burns the application of cold water or ice can actually produce a very dangerous condition of hypothermia.

Once you've stop the burning process the next priority is to keep the burn covered.  We've all had the unpleasant experience of having a cavity in our tooth taking a deep breath and feeling like an ice pick is being plunged through our head.  This is because the air or being drawn in is hitting that singular nerve in the tooth.  Now imagine you have a large area on your or with thousands or perhaps millions of exposed nerves all having air flowing over them.  This certainly contributes to the severe pain.  Keeping the burn covered with something such as a dry sterile towel or sheet will keep the burn clean and reduce the airflow and pain.

If the burn is second-degree or what we might call partial thickness the use of topical antibiotics will keep the burn clean and covered from the air.  Typically in the treatment of second-degree burns providers will wait a period of two to three weeks to allow wound healing.  After about a period of three weeks the rate of wound healing goes down and the rate of scar formation goes up.  It is for that reason that for small burns of this nature burn surgeons await to three weeks prior to making a recommendation for surgery to a patient.
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