Each year in the United States, 1.1 million burn injuries require medical care. The most common cause of burn is direct contact with a fire or flame. Other thermal burns occur following exposure to heat sources like scalding water, hot grease, steam and even the sun.
If you’ve been treating a burn at home and think it has become infected, then it’s important to seek urgent medical care. Infected burns are often easily treated with antibiotics and pain relief medication. However, in rare cases, an infected burn can cause blood poisoning (sepsis) or toxic shock syndrome. Each of these is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated.
Signs and symptoms of infected burns
The most common signs of an infected burn include:
- Any change in color of the burnt area or the surrounding skin
- Any swelling with purplish discoloration
- Increased thickness of the burn with it extending deep into the skin
- Green discharge or pus
- Presence of a fever
Treating minor burns at home
Burns are one of the most common household injuries, and most mild burns can be treated safely and effectively at home. Here are a few tips to avoid infected burns and feel better fast:
- Run cool (not cold) water over the affected area for 20 minutes.
- Wash the affected area with mild soap and water.
- Apply a cool compress or wet cloth over the burn area at 5-15 minute intervals to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Avoid ice or excessively cold compresses as they can further irritate the burn.
- Apply a topical antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin or Neosporin to the burn and cover with a sterile, non-fluffy dressing or cloth.
- Do your best to avoid exposing the burn to direct sunlight, as the skin will be very sensitive.
- If a blister forms, avoid the temptation to pop it as it can lead to infection. If you are concerned about your blisters, go to your local urgent care.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or naproxen.
When to seek medical attention for a burn
Visit your local urgent care for a burn if one or more of the following apply:
- The burn affects an area of more than three inches in diameter.
- The burn is located on the face, hands, buttocks or groin.
- The wound becomes painful or smelly.
- You develop a fever.
- You believe you have a third-degree burn.
- You cannot remember when you had your last tetanus shot.
Visit Thibodaux Regional Urgent Care – Houma for safe, immediate help with infected burns. We can help you get rid of the infection, relieve your pain and protect you from more serious complications. We’re open from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. daily for immediate, walk-in treatment.