Online therapy: catching fire

November 27, 2022

A number of people often trust quick solutions – in addition to ancestral notions – offered by the internet when dealing with health issues. It is time to do away with some of these notions.

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mong the biggest myths passed down by ancestors and the internet is how to deal with a burn at home, should you accidentally drop simmering hot drinks (tea, coffee, water, et al) on yourself. It could result in first-degree, second-degree or third-degree burns.

For one thing, the strength of the burn is not always first, second or third degree. But it can become one of the three, based on how it is treated.

Apart from ancestral notions, the treatment for so many of us is based on searching our go-to guide in the 21st century: the internet.

However, it is not always safe to rely on every solution passed down as tradition or thrown up by the world wide web.

To that end, the greatest myth to deal with a burn is by applying toothpaste on the area affected. However, whether your hand is literally on fire because of a lighter with excessive gas explodes in your hand (I speak from experience) for a minute or you end up dropping a cup of boiling hot water (another experience), applying toothpaste is the easiest albeit worst treatment to opt for.

The first thing is to understand if you have burned yourself and what kind of burn applies: first, second, or third-degree burn.

In either of the three, the said area will lead to immediate pain so if it is your hand, for example, a pain will immediately radiate towards your shoulder. Ditto for a single leg and so on.

If it is, for example, your hand, the area will immediately get red and bruising or boils will follow. Should that be the case, head to the emergency room immediately. A bad burn can damage not only the surface of the affected area but create nerve issues that will get worse and have larger consequences.

However, it isn’t always the case. To that end, opting for certain a myth that applying toothpaste in the affected area is a quick solution, couldn’t be more wrong and dangerous. It is a truism that getting a burn in any household is a common injury but how you deal with it can be with or without long term risk.

Apart from applying toothpaste immediately, another myth is putting ice on an affected area. Yes, the burn needs to be cooled down but ice is not the way to go about it because it can damage the tissue.

Put the affected area under cool (not ice-cold) water or/and apply a cool compress until the pain eases. A cool compress can be made at home by putting a dry cloth in cold water and dab the area but make sure the compress isn’t so cold that it causes numbness.

If you’re wearing anything in or around the burn area such as rings, remove them instantly so the cold water or compress is used evenly across the area.

If you get a blister, don’t poke it. Should it break, apply, clean the said space with water.

When the burn area feels better, apply a lotion – ideally one with aloe vera – or a moisturizer.

Bandage the area but don’t tighten it to avoid risking pressure. A bandage helps in more ways than one such as protecting the skin, avoiding air in the area and reduction in pain.

For pain, over-the-counter pain medication will help. However, depending on how you got the burn, a tetanus shot from your family doctor is a good idea.

Continue the usage of sunscreen or moisturizer after the wound heals for some time. But under no circumstances, put the affected area in ice-water. Use a cloth, but even that should be cool, not ice-cold.

In the end, while this is the overwhelming myth-breaking extracted from various burn and trauma journals, by no means is this list a substitute for a doctor. Seek medical care, go to the ER, depending on how you get the burn.



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