How are burns treated?

The treatment of a burn depends on the type of burn. However, all burns must be kept clean and adequate dressing should be applied based on severity of wounds. Pain management is very important as inadequate control can interfere with wound care. It is also important to reassess wounds for signs of infection and other long term issues, such as scarring and tightening of the skin over joints and muscles making them difficult to move.

First-degree burns might be treated with skin care products such as aloe vera cream or an antibiotic ointment. A dry gauze bandage over the skin will protect the burned area. A pain medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) can ease the pain of a burn.

Second-degree burns might be treated with an antibiotic cream, or other creams or ointments prescribed by a doctor.

The treatment of third-degree burns might require the process of skin grafting or the use of synthetic skin. Severe burns covering large parts of the body might need more intensive treatments such as I.V. antibiotics to prevent infection or I.V. fluids to replace fluids lost when the skin was burned.

How is burn pain managed?

Burn pain can be one of the most intense and prolonged types of pain. Burn pain is difficult to control because of its unique characteristics, its changing patterns, and its various components. In addition, there is pain involved in the treatment of burns as the wounds must be cleansed and the dressings changed. Studies have concluded that the management of burn pain can be inadequate, and such studies have advocated more aggressive treatments for pain resulting from burns. Lastly, some burns can be mentally traumatic and/or physically disfiguring and lead to psychological pain that must be addressed, as well.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/31/2017.


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