5 Must know First aid measures for Domestic Burn Injuries

(Minor Burns / Superficial burns over small area)

Burns are characterized by skin damage that causes the affected skin cells to die. Basically, it injures the skin, which is the largest organ of the body.

Domestic Burns can occur due to variety of causes, including:

  • Scalding from hot, boiling liquids – Water, Milk, Oil
  • Flame burns due to fires from matches, candles
  • Thermal Burns from Oven, contact with Hot surfaces

Depending on the depth of the skin involved, the burns are classified as :

  1. I Degree (Superficial)
  2. II Degree (Intermediate / Partial Thickness of skin) and
  3. III Degree (Deep/ Thickness of skin).

The degree of burn is not dependent on the agent that causes the burn. Hot liquids, for example, can cause all three burns, depending on how hot the liquid is and how long it stays in contact with the skin. The burns that happens in the house / kitchen, by contact with hot fluids, milk or oil, are usually superficial.

5 First Aid Measures for Domestic Burns

Optimum first aid measures reduces the severity of the burns and chances of infection, mitigates the pain and also shortens the time for healing.

Wash the burn area in running tap water

You need not worry about the chances of infection by cleaning with water. You can also use coolant bags over the involved area (only if the area is small). This reduces the depth of burn and alleviates the sharp pain. Do not apply ice directly over the burn area as this can further damage the skin.

Elevation of the Burn Area

Elevate the Burn area as mentioned below. “Elevation” reduces the swelling(Edema) caused by the burn thereby decreasing pain and also promotes healing.

  1. Head – have 2 pillows
  2. Hand – keep it over the chest while waking or Lying down
  3. Foot – keep a pillow underneath while lying down. Avoid standing for a long tim

Do not open the Blisters

Never puncture or open the blisters in the burn area. It is a sterile procedure and to be done by the medical specialist. If a blister ruptures spontaneously , apply antibiotic ointment (Like Mupirocin, Silver containing gels) over the raw area.

Remove the constricting ornaments immediately

Remove the ornaments like  rings, bangles, bracelet or religious threads in the area of burns . Burns will cause swelling of the area and the presence of these ornaments can cause a constricting effect which could prevent the blood flow to the area. Applying oil / soap will help in the removal of the ornaments if their little tight.


Sometimes analgesics/ pain medications will be required.Skin has numerous pain receiving nerve fibers and hence superficial burns are extremely painful. Pain gradually settles in 2-3 days. Deep burns damage the nerve fibers and usually have less / no pain. Hence beware of burns that have less pain!!!

The above mentioned are the simple first aid measures that you can do at home.

When should you consult a Plastic Surgeon

  • For major burns – deep / large area burns
  • Burns in children
  • Burns in areas like hand, genitals, face needs special care
  • Prescribing medications to promote healing
  • Diagnose and treat infection, if any
  • Prevention of formation of unsightly scar


Depending on the degree of burns ( first / second degree) , it will take 2 -3 weeks for the wound to heal. For 3rd degree burns , it will take a longer duration or sometimes needs surgical procedures like skin grafting to heal the wound.

Itching in caused by chemical mediators called cytokines in the wound area. It is a normal process in healing. Application of moisturizer / keeping the wound moist will decrease the intensity of healing. Sometimes medications such as Cetrizine will be required , if the itching is severe.

Formation of scar depends on

  • The depth of the wound
  • Site of the wound
  • Presence of infection
  • Skin color – Darker individuals generally have poor scar
  • Individuals healing potential- each person is unique and have different scar forming tendency

The scar can be minimized / reduced by early intervention with appropriate scar modulating medications / maneuvers, advised by your plastic surgeon

People with severe burns may require treatment at specialized burn centres. They may need skin grafts to cover large wounds. And they may need emotional support and months of follow-up care, such as physical therapy.

For major burns, first aid and wound assessment  are done initially. The goals of treatment are

  • Paincontrol – using oral / IV medications
  • Removal of dead tissue – Surgical cleaning under anaesthesia
  • Prevention infection – Appropriate antibiotics wound dressing
  • Reduce risk of scarring risk – early wound healing and  scar care
  • Regain function – maintaining proper position of the joints during wound healing and physiotherapy after wound healing
About the Author:

Dr. S. Selva SeethaRaman
MS, DNB(Sur), MCh (Plastic), DNB (Plastic), MRCS
Fellow in Microsurgery, PGDHHM, PGDMLS
Director- Dr. Selva’s Plastic Surgery Clinic
HOD & Senior Consultant – Gleneagles Global Health City

He is a Plastic , Reconstructive  and Microvascular surgeon with 15 years of experience. He is recognized internationally and nationally by his patients and his peers. He completed his M.Ch. degree in Plastic Surgery at the Prestigious Stanley Medical College, Chennai. He has been trained in many “International Centers of Excellence” at UK, Taiwan, Korea and Singapore to gain experience with the nuances of plastic surgery. His passion and dedication to the specialty compliments his complete, holistic and personalized care for all his patients.

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