Treating Burn Injuries from Fireworks

A burn is an injury to the skin, mostly caused by heat, but can also be caused by chemicals or electricity. It can also harm or destroy muscle, tissue, and bone under the skin. Additionally, children have thinner skin which burns at a lower temperature and in less time than adult skin. Protect your skin by learning about the different types of burns and how to treat them.

Most people think of burns in degrees: first, second, and third. Doctors and nurses use these terms to talk about how thick and how bad the burn is. A first degree burn can be minor or moderate. This depends on how much of the body the burn covers and how
deep it is. 

What's the first thing I should do if I get a burn?

Immediately and safely remove the person or yourself away from the heat source to stop the burning. Cool the burn down with cool water for 20 minutes. You might increase damage to the area if the ice or ice water is used. Avoid placing greasy or creamy substances on the burn. Cover with a dry, nonstick, sterile bandage. 

While it may be very tempting, DO NOT pop the blisters on burn. Popping a blister creates an easy and accessible pathway for bacteria to get into the wound. Allowing your body to do what it does best by sending healing cells to the area. 

When should I seek the help of a doctor or healthcare provider for a burn?

As a general rule, if the size of the wound is bigger than the palm of your hand it may need a second opinion or further evaluation. If the burn occurs around the eyes, nose, ears, toes, and fingers, regardless of size, it’s recommended that a healthcare provider provide an evaluation since the wound may become problematic. Finally, if you notice symptoms of the wound becoming infected (i.e. increased pain, fevering, streaking redness, etc.) you should see a physician.

How do I manage pain if I've been burned?

Most people with burns can take an ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) at the recommended over-the-counter dosage to manage pain. There are also some topical pain relievers that can be used, such as burn free wipes; which have a light dose of numbing medication in them. Always be sure to follow the guidelines provided on the packaging of the pain-relieving medications.

Are topical ointments recommended?

Using Neosporin or other topical ointment isn’t necessarily required in all situations. Sometimes, using it excessively can keep the wound moist and can delay the healing process to some degree. If you initially cleaned the wound and can keep it clean and dry, you may not need an antibiotic ointment at all.

How can I reduce scarring from my burn?

Be sure to protect the scab from being torn or peeled off. Protecting the new skin underneath, the scab with sunblock can help reduce scaring.

And the best advice for lighting fireworks?

"Don't hold them in your hand." -- Tom White, MD, Intermountain Healthcare trauma surgeon