August 08, 2023 6 min read

Here in New Zealand, we tend to enjoy activities that could result in burns such as camping, cooking, and simply hanging out in the great outdoors. From spending too much time in the sun to accidental run-ins with hot surfaces and chemical mishaps, these incidents require immediate attention and proper care.

Burn injuries can happen unexpectedly and cause immense pain and discomfort. Therefore, it is important to at least have a basic understanding of how to handle burn injuries.

Let us guide you through the essentials of burn injury management, offering insights into the different types of burns such as first-degree burns, as well as provide insights into effective treatment options, and essential first aid for burns.

The Best Way to Treat Burns: Early Intervention

The key to effective burn injury management is early intervention. Quick and appropriate first aid, followed by the application of burn treatment gels or ointments, or in more serious cases, seeking professional medical care, can greatly enhance the healing process. By being prepared and informed, you can provide the best possible care for yourself and your loved ones in the event of a burn injury.

In New Zealand, where outdoor activities, barbecues, and DIY projects are popular, the risk of burn injuries is always present. Arm yourself with knowledge, first aid skills, and the right products to ensure you're ready to tackle burn injuries effectively. Remember, proper burn care can make a significant difference in the recovery process and reduce the chances of complications.

Understanding Burn Injuries: Types and Severity

Burn injuries can be classified into different degrees of severity based on the depth and extent of tissue damage. Familiarising yourself with these classifications can help you determine the appropriate response and treatment. Here are the main types of burns:

1. First-Degree Burns: Minor but Painful

First-degree burns are the mildest form of burns, affecting only the outer layer of skin. They are often characterised by redness, pain, and mild swelling. Common causes include brief exposure to hot liquids, sunburn, or minor contact with hot surfaces. To treat a first-degree burn:

  1. Cool Water Rinse: Hold the burn under cool (not cold) running water for about 10-15 minutes to soothe the pain and reduce inflammation.
  2. Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help manage pain and discomfort.
  3. Avoid Ice or Creams: Ice and creams can potentially worsen the burn, so avoid using them.

2. Second-Degree Burns: Deeper Damage

Second-degree burns penetrate beyond the outer layer of skin, causing blisters, increased pain, and possible scarring. These burns generally require medical attention and proper care to prevent infection and promote healing.

3. Third-Degree Burns: Severe and Critical

Third-degree burns are more severe, affecting the epidermis and dermis as well as often reaching the innermost layer of skin called the subcutaneous tissue. They can result in charred skin, a white or blackened appearance, and may be relatively painless due to nerve damage. Third-degree burns demand immediate medical attention.

4. Fourth-Degree Burns: Severe and Potentially Fatal

As well as affecting all layers of skin, fourth-degree burns often damage the deeper tissues including muscles and bones. As nerve endings have been destroyed, if the patient is still alive, they are generally painless but immediate medical attention is required as they are the most severe type of burns.

Effective First Aid for Burns

In New Zealand, as in any part of the world, providing the right first aid for burns can significantly influence the outcome of the injury. Remember these steps:

  1.  Safety First: Ensure the scene is safe for you and the injured person before attempting any aid.
  2.  Stop the Burning Process: If the burn is caused by a hot liquid, make sure to remove the person from the source of the burn and cool the area using cool running water.
  3.  Clothing Removal: For second-degree and worse burns, gently remove clothing from the affected area, but do not peel off any clothing stuck to the burn.
  4.  Cover and Protect: Use a clean, non-stick bandage or cloth to cover the burn and protect it from infection. Avoid using adhesive bandages directly on the burn.
  5. Seek Professional Medical Care: For second-degree and worse burns, get medical help as soon as possible. Burns can be a lot worse than they appear so it is important to get them seen to as quickly as possible.

Choosing the Right Burn Treatment: From Gels to Ointments

Several treatment options are available when it comes to burn care for minor burns. These options ranging from burn gels to ointments. Each has its unique benefits and uses:

1. Burn Gels: Quick Relief

Burn gels are designed to provide instant relief by cooling the burn and soothing pain. They create a protective barrier over the burn and reduce the risk of infection. When applying burn gel:

  • Gently clean the burn with mild soap and water.
  • Apply a thin layer of burn gel and cover with a non-stick bandage.
  • Reapply the gel and change the bandage as needed, following the product's instructions.

2. Ointments: Promoting Healing

Ointments like Aloe Vera Gel can aid in keeping the burn moisturised, which is crucial for healing and preventing scarring. However, ointments should be used only once the burn has started to heal and is no longer open or weeping. It is best to seek medical advice prior to applying any ointments to a burn.

NB: Never put anything on any of the more severe burns as this can cause additional harm if it is the wrong treatment for the type of burn.  

Dealing with Burn Blisters: Dos and Don'ts

Burn blisters can be painful and concerning, but proper care can facilitate their healing and prevent infection. Here's what you should and shouldn't do:

  • Do: Keep the blister intact to protect the underlying skin and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Do: Cover the blister with a sterile, non-stick bandage.
  • Don't: Pop the blister, as it can increase the risk of infection and delay healing.

Handling Chemical Burns: A Delicate Situation

Chemical burns require special attention due to the potential interaction between the chemical and the body's tissues. If you encounter a chemical burn:

  1. Ensure you are familiar with the first aid requirements of any chemical you use prior to using them. Many chemicals react badly with water so it may not be appropriate to rinse thoroughly under a running tap for example.
  2. Ensure it is safe to help: Look after yourself and remove danger prior to providing assistance to any burn victim.
  3. Remove Contaminated Clothing: Safely remove any clothing that may have been exposed to the chemical.
  4. Rinse Thoroughly: Flush the affected area with cool, running water for at least 20 minutes. This step is crucial to prevent further damage.
  5. Seek Medical Attention: Even if the burn seems minor, it's best to consult a medical professional, as some chemical burns can develop and worsen over time.

The Path to Healing: Best Practices and Precautions

While proper treatment is crucial, adopting the right practices during the healing process is equally important. Here's what you can do to promote healing and prevent complications:

  • Keep the Area Clean: Gently wash the burn with mild soap and water daily, patting it dry afterward.
  • Moisturise: Once the burn starts to heal, apply an appropriate ointment to keep the area moisturised and prevent scarring.
  • Protect from the Sun: Even after the burn heals, the affected skin may be more sensitive to the sun. Use sunscreen and protective clothing to prevent further damage.


Dealing with burn injuries requires a combination of quick thinking, proper first aid, and informed treatment choices. By understanding the different types of burns, providing effective first aid, and selecting the right treatments, you can significantly contribute to the healing process. Remember, when in doubt or faced with severe burns, seeking medical attention is the wisest course of action.

Disclaimer- The information provided in this blog post is intended as general information for entertainment purposes only. We are not healthcare providers and we do not hold any healthcare qualification. The content contained on this site is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment and we are not making any recommendations for your personal situation.

Shiva Ji
Shiva Ji

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