Saturday, August 06, 2005

Minor Burn? Water to the Rescue!

Using Water to Help Minor Burns

A burn is an over-heating of the skin, leading to tissue damage. Burns -- especially where the flesh is compromised, or over extensive parts of the body -- are dangerous. If there’s a severe burn, the individual should be taken to an emergency facility as quickly as possible.

But for the minor burns we often get, water can be a soothing and healing agent that you can make use of.

Let’s start with an example: cooking. I do 99% of the cooking at our house, and cooks have to realize that burns are simply an occupational hazard. While no one likes them, and while I take precautions against them, I know I’m going to have some. But let’s say you accidentally touch a hot pan against your hand. You know immediately that you’ve burned it, just from the pain. And what you should do right away is get it under or in water. Do this as quickly as possible. The fastest way is to run it under lukewarm tap water. The water should not be forceful, nor should it necessarily be ice water, although that will do if it’s the only thing you have at hand. (Time is of the essence here). The point is not to make you feel better -- the way you think ice water would -- but to cool the skin, and lukewarm water will do that just fine. Just don’t wait. Get water -- or any other lukewarm liquid for that matter -- on it quickly.

This accomplishes 2 things. First, it stops further burning. When the skin is brought into contact with heat, the burning starts, but doesn’t stop until the skin temperature has been lowered. And your first goal should be to lower the temperature, and quickly.

Secondly, it soothes the skin. And in most cases, the burn will be no more than a 2 or 3 day red spot if you take these steps.

Mouth burns are also a problem. Let’s say you get a spoonful of soup that ‘s hotter than you realized. Again, you know immediately that your mouth has been burned. Just as quickly, get some water (or any other cool liquid) into your mouth. That will also stop the burning, and soothe the tongue and mouth.

(And please be careful with hot food. I know it’s tempting to dig into a hot soup or cheese casserole or whatever, but mouth burns are dangerous and they hurt. So give your food a few minutes to cool down. Your mouth will appreciate it).


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