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Good Health and Bad Medicine:
 First Aid - Part 1

 First Aid - Part 2

 First Aid - Part 3

 First Aid - Part 4

 First Aid - Part 5

 First Aid - Part 6

 Medicine Cabinet


 Pain - Part 2

 Liniments, Rubbing Salves And Plasters

 Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine

First Aid - Part 4

( Originally Published 1940 )


First-degree burns are those in which the skin is reddened but not blistered or broken. In most cases, the only treatment necessary is to immerse the injured part in running cold water. This will relieve the pain and diminish the inflammation. If, however, the burn is extensive, as in sun-burn, the best treatment is to get into a tub of cool water to which a pound or so of bicarbonate of soda or boric acid has been added; or a cold, sopping wet compress of boric acid solution (i teaspoonful to a glass of water) may be laid on the affected part. Oily substances may be used, but they are much less effective than wet compresses. However, if a cream seems more convenient, ordinary cold cream, vaseline, or olive oil may be used. Butesin Picrate Ointment contains an anesthetic that relieves the pain of a burn, but it should never be used over large areas (larger than size of palm) because of the danger of irritation or poisoning. It should never be used for severe burns in which the skin is broken or blistered.

Such burns, known as second-degree burns, should, if possible, be treated by a physician because of the danger of infection. Until a physician can be seen, first-aid treatment is the same as for first-degree burns except that no greasy sub-stances should be used, since they favor the introduction of germs and infection of the burned area.

In the more severe, so-called third-degree burns (in which skin and deeper tissues are charred) emergency medical and often hospital treatment is imperative. In severe burns it is not only necessary to relieve pain, but it is even more important to combat the shock that almost always accompanies it. Furthermore, in a hospital it is much easier to apply the medicaments that will prevent the intoxication, infection and terrible scarring that so often accompany or follow a third-degree burn.

The most important medicament used in severe burns is tannic acid. If immediate medical care cannot be obtained, tannic acid solution should be applied to the burns. The solution should be prepared just before use by dissolving 4 teaspoonfuls of the powder in a glass of water. Sterile gauze soaked in this solution should be laid over the burned area. If tannic acid powder is not available, use cooled, very strong tea (2 teaspoonfuls of tea steeped for 15 minutes in a cup of boiling water). Such tea is virtually a solution of tannic acid.

Amertan (Eli Lilly & Co.) and Metanic Jelly (Abbott & Co.)

are water soluble ointments containing tannic acid and mild antiseptics. In an emergency they may be used on severe burns instead of tannic acid solutions, but only over small areas.

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