By Chris Holt

Safety is an important issue in the studio and shop at all times.  Even though we hate to admit it, burns are a common annoyance.  The most common are picking up a hot piece of metal or getting a spark imbedded into the skin.  Although this type of first degree burns rarely need medical attention, it is important to care for the injury properly so that healing can take place and discomfort diminishes as soon as possible.

 I spoke to the staff at Burn Care Associates located in Pittsburgh and asked, “Just what is the proper way to care for a burn?” Until one actually is burnt we tend to ignore basic first aid.

 First degree burns are characterized by a reddening of the skin, accompanied by pain and mild swelling.  They do not blister and can be treated at home. 

 Second degree burns turn red and are painful.  You will notice swelling and some blistering. Without proper care, second degree burns may result in scarring.  

Third degree burns turn red and are deep into your skin.  The skin not only turns red, but either white or black.  This kind of burn needs professional attention. 

1.     NEVER put butter or ice on a burn.  Ice will usually increase the chance of the skin blistering. Soak the burn in cold water.  You can do this by holding it under the faucet and running cold water over it or by submersing a cloth in cold water and holding it on your burn.

 2.     Hold the burn above your heart.  You want to keep the blood away from the burn area as much as possible.

 3.     You may wish to apply over-the counter-medication specifically for burns.  Be gentle; rubbing anything on the burn will be painful.  Apply a sterile bandage on the burned area. One type of topical ointment you can buy over the counter that has been recommended is Bacitracin.   It has an antibiotic and also an emollient to help with healing.

 4.     Remove all clothing and jewelry and anything tight fitting that may constrict the area around the burn.

 5.     The best assurance to avoid the chance of contacting a burn is to work carefully and quit when you are weary.