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Emergency Medicine


Burns are very common home injuries, especially with children. If you have any doubts about your burn and its gravity, seek for medical help.


From dropping a cup of hot coffee on you to more serious situations like a fire, burns are one of the most common household injuries. Especially if there are children in the house, those burns caused by water and hot liquids are among the most frequent accidents that occur during childhood.

Babies and children are more exposed to this type of injury because they are more curious. Their skin is more sensitive, demanding additional protection; however, we are all exposed to suffering an accident of this type.

Burns are injuries that damage body tissues caused by heat, sunlight, chemicals, electricity, or nuclear radiation. The most common burns are caused by hot and boiling liquids, hot steam and fires, matchsticks, candles, and lighters. Other types of burns are caused by inhaling smoke or toxic particles.

Burns are classified as a first, second, and third-degree. Each degree is based on how deep and how severe the damage to the skin is.

Types of Burns:

  • First-degree burns: They cause minimal skin damage because they affect the outermost layer of skin.

    Signs of a first-degree burn:

  • Redness

  • Pain or burning

  • Minor inflammation

  • Dry, not blistered area

  • A mild burn caused by sun exposure is an example of this type of burn.

  • Second-degree burns: These burns are considered more serious because they affect more than the top layer of skin. Deep second-degree burns can leave scars.

    Signs of a second-degree burn:

  • Swelling

  • Skin looks red, white, or blotchy

  • Blistered skin

  • Intense pain

  • Third-degree burns: Burns cause severe damage. They extend through all layers of the skin, reaching the layer of fat beneath the skin. These burns can destroy nerves, causing numbness.

    Signs of a third-degree burn:

  • White, black or dark brown (depending on the cause)

  • Leather-like texture

  • Raised skin texture

  • Big blisters

Before you want to cure/treat a burn, you must:

  1.  Evaluate the type of burn you have in front of you

  2. Remove any objects that come in contact with the skin such as watches, bracelets, rings, etc.

How do you treat first-degree burns?

  • Move the person away from the heat or turn off the heat source

  • Cool the burn under running water for at least 10 minutes 

  • Cover with wet compresses

  • Do not apply ice. It can make the damage worse 

  • Dry and immobilize the burned area as much as possible 

  • Never apply cotton balls to a burn because the small fibers can adhere to the injury

  • Drink plenty of fluids

  • Avoid any home remedies such as butter or eggs 

How do you treat second-degree (minor) burns?

  • Cool the burn under running water for at least 10 minutes

  • Check the state of the blisters (if they are intact or are already broken, the area must be carefully disinfected as it is an open wound)

  • Never apply cotton balls to a burn because the small fibers can adhere to the injury

  • Avoid any home remedies

  • Keep the area clean

  • Bandage it properly to avoid infection

  • Depending on the severity; It may be necessary to go to the emergency room


How do you treat third-degree burns?

Never try to self-treat a third-degree burn. Call 911 or in Los Cabos contact BlueNetHospitals Emergency Room 624.1043.911 or go directly to the emergency room. The patient's life is at risk, so it is vital to act quickly and calmly. Do not apply any kind of ointment or remedy; do not try to treat the blister.

When should I consult a doctor?

Seek emergency medical attention in the following cases:

  • Burns on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, a major joint, or a large area of the body

  • Burns caused by electricity

  • Chemical burns

  • Deep burns

  • Burns that are black, brown, or white or have a "charred" appearance

  • Burns that make the skin look rough

  • If there is difficulty breathing or the burns were in the airway

  • If your wound shows signs of infection such as increased pain, redness, swelling, and discharge from the area

  • A large blister that does not heal within 2 weeks or so

  • New and unexplained symptoms

When treated quickly and optimally, a first and second-degree burn can minimize damage and prevent infection. The damage caused by the most severe second and third-degree burns can potentially lead to problems in deep skin tissues, bones, and organs. Causing the patient to need:


Burns prevention: 

The most obvious but most effective way to combat a burn is to prevent it from occurring. Take these preventative measures:

  • Use sunscreen every day and avoid exposure during peak sunlight hours

  • Keep chemicals out of the reach of children and wear gloves when using them

  • Keep the kids out of the kitchen while you're cooking

  • Never leave what you're cooking unsupervised

  • Don't hold a child while you're cooking

  • Keep appliances away from water

  • Always turn pot and pan handles toward the back of the stove

  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy

  • Discard electrical cables with exposed wires

  • Clean dryer lint traps regularly

  • Keep your smoke detectors functional and replace them every 10 years

  • Measures the temperature of the bathwater before use

  • Keep matches and lighters in a place out of reach of children 

  • Install safety covers on outlets

  • Make sure the straps or buckles are not hot before putting a child in a car seat

  • Unplug irons or similar electronics when not in use

  • Controls the temperature of food before serving it to a child 

  • Don't cook in very loose or steamy clothing that can easily catch fire while you're maneuvering

  • Practice a fire plan with your family

Life after a severe burn:

While getting immediate and timely physical treatment for burns is vital, don't forget to also seek psychological and emotional help. A dermatologist can also help you evaluate and possibly heal the scars left by the burn.

Ask your doctor where you can find a support line or certified professional who can provide therapy after this difficult event. There are also support groups and foundations so that you don't feel alone during this process.

BlueNetHospitals - Hospital Los Cabos

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