Thermal Burns: What to Do

thermal burns treatment

First of all, you should call 911 immediately if:

  • The burn penetrates deep layers of the skin.
  • The person is an infant or a senior.
  • The hands, feet, face, or genitals are burned.
  • The skin is leathery or charred looking, with brown, white, or black patches.

Immediate Treatment for Any Burn

The very first thing you should do is put out the fire, or completely remove the victim from the source of the burn such as fire, steam, hot liquid, or anything else. This may include instructing the person or even helping them to “stop, drop, and roll” if they have not done so already.

Next, you should remove any charred, burned, or hot clothing from off the person; these may further damage the person’s skin. If the clothing sticks to the skin, cut around it.

You should also remove any tight clothing or jewelry such as rings, necklaces, or bracelets. Burns can cause serious swelling.

Treatment for Mild Burns

  • Cool the burn: Once the burning has stopped, you should cool the burn by running the affected area under cool water. If running water is not available, submerge in cool water, or use compresses.
  • Protect the burn: Wrap the burn loosely in sterile gauze, non-adhesive bandage, or cloth. You may also want to secure the gauze with medical tape not directly over the burn.
  • Treat Pain: The pain can be helped with over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen, Aleve, or Tylenol.

Treatment for Severe Burns

The first two steps are the same; you should cool the burn and protect it right away. However, for severe burns you should attempt to prevent the person from going into shock by laying the person flat, elevating the feet and burned area about 12 inches, and covering the person with a blanket.

You should see a doctor right away if the burned area is more than two inches long, or it shows any signs of infection including oozing.


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