'Tis but a flesh wound: Minor burns

Wounded Miku

It’s true that some of the most important life lessons are learnt outside of class, but sometimes they’re still learnt within school grounds. I’ve never officially taken any first aid courses, but it was a surprise to me when Ruben divulged that although he had been through training he hadn’t been informed of the way to treat burns that I knew of, although running the burned area under a tap was straightforward enough.

I had to learn how to treat burns the hard way as a student in high school doing Food Technology as part of Design and Technology. We did ‘Food Tech’ on rotation with Textiles and Woodworking, and accidents sometimes happened as each teacher told their horror stories. During this particular lesson when space on the benches was as scarce as ever, we were preparing to cook when an electric frypan was knocked off the counter where it had been plugged in.

Ice is not nice

Wanting to minimise damage to the equipment without thinking about it fully, I made a grab for the pan only to discover it was searing hot. I let it drop immediately, but it had done its damage. I had burns on three fingers.

Unsure what to do, some friends urged me to ask the teacher for some ice to stop the burning sensation and I complied, not knowing any better. It seemed the teacher didn’t either as she readily filled a sandwich bag with a couple of ice cubes and wrapped paper towel around the lot for me to press against the afflicted area. By the end of class at lunch, the ice had melted and my fingers were on fire again.

The pain was worse than before if anything. Half of lunch passed before I mustered the courage to go to the ‘office’ where the sick bay was for assistance. I explained my case, asking for ice, and the lady there shook her head and took me into the back. She told me ice was the worst thing you could do. You should run the burned area under cold water (which she made me do), then she pulled out some cotton wool which she soaked in water and pressed to my fingers before taping all the way around it. My relief was complete.

It's not always better to be cool

One thing I don’t recall however is whether this nice office lady (don’t you hate that term) had also taped plastic to my finger to prevent water dripping everywhere, or whether she had simply used less water or better tape like masking tape. At first I thought not since it would have allowed the soaked cotton to warm up more quickly in a plastic sheath, however the resulting mess when recently attempting to sticky tape around dripping wet cotton made me think twice. I don’t believe it matters even if the soaked cotton does warm up, as long as it doesn’t dry out what matters is that the burn is kept wet though I can’t explain it medically.

Despite all the things I’ve forgotten, I’ve remembered this advice now even after so many years and have had the chance to share this with others in the unfortunate circumstance my friends have burned themselves. If someone you know suffers a minor burn, now you know what to do too. If it’s a major burn or even a large one though, don’t be silly and try to deal with it yourself — go see a doctor.

Illust by 黎(クロイ), on Pixiv. All credits to their respective owners.