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What's it like: To suffer serious burns

If the burn is bigger than your palm, it’s generally recommended you see someone that day. And if the burn is life threatening, you should seek emergency medical attention.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: July 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: July 20, 2014

What are the different levels of burns?

Each year, hundreds of Oklahomans suffer burns of varying degrees from sun exposure, fires, lightning, fireworks, electrical lines or hot water, surfaces or pavement.

Although medical professionals use other terminology, some people are familiar with the different degrees of burns. For example, a first-degree burn generally means the burn damages the skin, turning it red. Meanwhile, a second-degree burn causes damage part way through the skin and causes blisters. A person who has a third-degree burn will have damage through the skin and often require surgery. And lastly, a fourth-degree burn is an injury that burns through skin and what’s below the skin.

Often, these burns are preventable.

For example, you should never use gasoline as starter fluid or as a way to accelerate your grill or fire. Also, wear sunscreen when spending time outdoors, and keep babies younger than 1 out of direct sunlight. It’s not recommended to use sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months old.

How are burns treated?

It will vary, depending on the severity.

Not all burns require a trip to the emergency room. Generally, it’s good to first cool the burn with water, although it doesn’t need to be ice water. Ice and ice water can cause damage to the skin. Next, you’ll want to clean the burn with soap and water. You do not have to scrub it, and you don’t have to treat it specifically with antibacterial soap. After that, you can cover the burn with something to protect it from the environment. If it’s not better within 24 hours, it is generally recommended for you to contact your family’s medical professional.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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