Blister Burn

Blistering is usually noted with second-degree burns, which are red in color.

Treatment

Treat the area the same as first degree minor burns.

Make sure the area of all blistering burns is less than the size of your palm. If larger, see a doctor.

If the blister is intact, leave it alone! The skin underneath the blister is actually healing while the blister protects it from further damage and infection. Use sterile white petrolatum or petroleum jelly and a light gauze wrap to protect it until it bursts on its own (this can take days).

Once burst, remove the collapsed skin from the blister with gentle washing and sterile tweezers.

Shave hair adjacent to the wound.

The raw, weeping skin under the blister must be protected after the blister bursts. Use Adaptic (Petrolatum gauze) for the non-stick first layer. Place dry gauze as a second layer to absorb moisture oozing from the raw surface beneath the first layer. This prevents breakdown of the skin from sogginess. Rolled gauze wrap is the final layer holding the others in place and limiting movement.

Change this dressing once or twice daily and wash gently with an anti-bacterial soap. This stops an unwanted thick membrane from forming on the raw burn surface and prevents infection.

Depending upon the size and depth of injury, you may need to continue the above process for 1-3 weeks. When the new skin beneath the dressings is dry (but not crusty or scabbed) and no longer stings to touch, you can stop the dressings. The new skin is pink, thin, and delicate. You may choose to protect it for another week with a single layer of gauze wrap until it is sturdier.

Anti-inflammatory medication helps control pain, swelling, and redness. They should be dosed around the clock, with longer acting brands preferable since awakening in the middle of the night with burn pain is common with shorter acting medicine.

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Never give aspirin to children or teenagers.

DO NOT

    Do not use ice. Ice application has been associated with frostbite and should be avoided.
    Do not break blisters. Broken blisters are vulnerable to infection.
    Do not wrap in an occlusive dressing.
    Do not touch the burn site with dirty hands.

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