A burn occurs when the skin comes in contact with a heat source that is so hot it damages the skin. Burns most often occur when someone has direct or indirect contact with heat, electric current, radiation, or chemicals. Having a 24-hour home care provider can be really beneficial if these situation should ever happen when you are unable to be there for your senior loved one.
If your loved one has burned herself, there are degrees of burns that she could have.
- First-degree burn. This type of burn only affects the outer layer of the skin. Your loved one may feel pain, or have swelling in the area that may be red or pink.
- Second-degree burn. A second-degree burn will affect both the outer and underlying layers of skin. Second-degree burns cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering.
- Third-degree burn. A third-degree burn will penetrate the deep layers of skin. These types of burns cause white or blackened, burned skin and the skin may be numb.
Unless you are certain it is a first-degree burn, your loved one should be brought to the doctor immediately for evaluation. Burns can lead to cell death, which can require hospitalization and can be fatal.
If your loved one only has a first-degree burn (and we say only lightly because they can still be quite painful), you can provide care and comfort at home. If dressings need to be changed frequently, or if your loved one needs ointment applied at an area she cannot reach, you might consider having a provider come to the home who provides 24-hour home care to help your loved one through the healing process. A 24-hour home care provider can be arranged to cover the hours you aren’t there to help.
Keep the Burn Cool
Immediately after it happens, run the affected area under cool water if possible. You can also apply a cool, wet compress but do not apply ice directly to the area. Ice can cause more tissue damage. Since burns seem to hurt long after they’ve occurred, having multiple cold compresses that your 24-hour home care provider can switch out might help your loved one be more comfortable.
- If the burn is on the finger, remove all rings before the affected area begins to swell. If it’s elsewhere on the body, make sure all clothes around it are loose-fitting.
- If blisters occur, do not break them intentionally. The fluid-filled blisters will protect against infection. If a blister does break, clean the area with water (mild soap is optional), and then apply an antibiotic ointment.
- Once the burn is cooled, apply a lotion with aloe to soothe and bring relief to the area. This will also help it from drying out and cracking or peeling.
- Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. This will protect the area by keeping air off of it and will reduce pain. Just keep it loose.
- Offer pain relievers if needed.
Most minor burns heal on their own within a week or two. If your loved one’s skin seems to get worse instead of better, bring her in to get it examined.
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