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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Self-care for burns

See the burns first aid page for what to do as soon as someone is burned.

Use non-stick dressings against the burn to keep it moist and clean. If a burn dries out and forms a scab, it takes longer to heal.

Burns can weep, which is normal, but you may need a second padded dressing that you change regularly to keep the outside of the dressings next to the burn dry. This helps to stop the wound from becoming infected.

Do not burst your blisters. This can increase infection risk. Your nurse will check any blisters and decide if they need to be burst.

Keep the burned area raised. This can reduce swelling and help with pain and healing.

You need to watch for signs of infection, such as:

If any of these happen, see your doctor or nurse as soon as possible.

Read what else you can do to help your wound heal. With a burn it's especially important to drink plenty of fluids and to eat well with enough proteins and nutrients in your diet.

Caring for healed skin

At first, your scar will be very fragile and can easily be damaged if you knock or bump it. Tell your nurse if you're worried about this. They can advise you on how to protect your wound, or refer you to the Scar Management Specialist Service for protective garments.

Your scar will also be very sensitive to the sun for at least a year. You need to cover it with a sunscreen of at least 30SPF, or with UV-proof clothing.

You will need to moisturise the skin at least twice a day to stop it from becoming dry and itchy. If the scar feels like it's becoming dry, tight or itchy, moisturise it again. Use any non-perfumed moisturiser that you know you're not sensitive to. It doesn't need to be an expensive product. If your scar continues itching, tell your GP.

You can swim once your wounds have completely healed. Protect your wound from the sun if swimming outside. Once you've finished swimming, rinse off any chlorinated or salty water and thoroughly moisturise your skin again.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Getting help for burns

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Plastic Surgery Department, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed May 2021.


Page reference: 101210

Review key: HIBUR-30143