Tissue damage caused by high temperatures is called a burn. Temperature of boiling water is 100 degrees Celsius, however, the steam may cause damage more than the fire.
Steam burn, as well as any thermal burn, causes damage of the skin tissue, disturbed circulation, swelling and inflammation. Irritation of the nerve endings causes pain.
• Patients with burns of the 1st degree (light burns) have redness, pain, and mild swelling of the skin, which soon pass. The treatment is done at home.
• In case of burns of the 2nd degree (moderate burns) there is a blister filled with fluid. Skin recovers within 14-16 days. Infected 2nd degree burn’s healing may take several months, so treatment is done in the clinic under the supervision of a physician.
• Burns of the 3rd degree (severe burn) cause necrosis and exfoliation of the skin. Pain is weak, because the nerve endings are destroyed. The patient is sent to the trauma, burn, or the intensive care unit of a hospital. During healing the dead tissue are torn away, and there is a scar formation.
Heat capacity of steam is 4000 times higher than the dry air. So, despite the fact that the steam burns are typically of 1, 2, 3 degree, there is a great danger of rapid destruction of large areas of skin, eyes and respiratory tract.
Let’s observe it in more detail:
1. Burn of the eye has usually mild or moderate severity. When steam enters the eye, it immediately closes, so eyelids have the most of the damage.
2. If you burn more than 10-15 percent of body surface – there is a burn disease. The burn of the large areas of the skin leads to serious disorders: the burn shock, which leads to death in case of burn of more than 50% of the body, poisoning with decay products of the affected tissues and burn infection.
To know the severity of the burn you can use the “rule of palm” (the area of the palm is about 1% of the total area of the body), and these numbers:
• The body’s front and back – by 18%;
• Each leg – 18%;
• Head and neck – 9%;
• Each hand – to 9%;
• Crotch – 1%.
3. Inhalation of steam may cause thermal burns of respiratory tract that can lead to various complications (during first 6-12 hours there is an edema, half of the patients have pneumonia at the 3rd day).
How to treat steam burns?
First aid is to remove the heat and reduce the possibility of a painful shock or burn infection.
1. Eliminate the source of steam or move out the patient. Quickly, but carefully, not to break blisters, remove (cut) clothes from the affected areas.
2. Place the affected area in cold water, or pour cool water on the burn for 10-20 minutes to save deeper tissues. Keep the affected area in the raised position to prevent swelling.
3. Little by little, but often give a solution to drink: liter of water with a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of baking soda.
4. Give a pain reliever – Analginum. In case of a slight burn treat the affected area with 33% alcohol and apply a sterile dressing. If the burn is large, immobilize the affected area and wait for the doctor.
5. If you burn the eyes, treat the skin around with the brilliant green and apply a sterile dressing.
What NOT to do:
1. Tear off the clothes, stuck to the wound. You need to cut off the fabric around the burn.
2. Pour and smear on the skin surface improvised folk remedies.
3. Try to clean the wound without sterile bandages and pain relief.
4. Pierce the blisters.
5. Bandage, if you do not know how to do it in the particular case. It can cause increased swelling.
Seek immediate medical help if:
• A child or an elderly person suffer;
• There are open wounds;
• Area of the affected surface is greater than 5%;
• It is the groin;
• It is the head.
Treatment of steam burns
The dressing (bandage with a 0.5% solution of novocaine gives a good analgesic effect) is changed once a day. If the badage is stuck, use pale pink solution of potassium permanganate.
If you choose any other method of treatment of burns, consult an expert!
You can attach to the sore spot the ice, soak for 5-10 minutes. Then use a sterile bandage.
Do not treat it with oil. It keeps the heat, decreasing the healing of burns. Excellent means is a normal egg. Whip it to a foam and and lubricate the damaged area of skin.
Also you can use starch, baking soda, chalk, bran or foam of dark soap. These medicines are applied to the affected area.