Fourth of July has arrived and with it comes cookouts, bonfires and fireworks…three things you don’t typically associate with being dangerous for your feet. Fireworks, sparklers, the runaway piece of lit charcoal, and the flaming marshmallow that fell off the stick all pose a real threat to your podiatric health. During the summer months, our feet are more prone to injury due to popular footwear choices that leave them exposed and susceptible to the elements. It is during this time of year that we see an increase of burn wounds in the office.
Burns occur in varying intensities:
- First degree burns affect only the most superficial skin layers and cause skin to appear dry and red.
- Second degree burns can vary in appearance from red with clear blisters to yellow or white and can be very painful.
- Third degree burns are also known as full thickness burns, as the entire thickness of the skin is damaged. Tissue will appear leathery and these wounds are typically painless.
- Fourth degree burns are the most serious and extend into underlying fat, muscle and bone.
If you do end up with a minor burn (first or second degree and less than 3 inches in diameter), the Mayo Clinic recommends the following action:
- Cool the burn. Hold the burned area under cool (not cold) running water for 10 or 15 minutes or until the pain subsides. If this is impractical, immerse the burn in cool water or cool it with cold compresses. Cooling the burn reduces swelling by conducting heat away from the skin. Don't put ice on the burn.
- Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. Don't use fluffy cotton, or other material that may get lint in the wound. Wrap the gauze loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the burn, reduces pain and protects blistered skin.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
- Don't use ice. Putting ice directly on a burn can cause a person's body to become too cold and cause further damage to the wound.
- Don't apply egg whites, butter or ointments to the burn. This could cause infection.
- Don't break blisters. Broken blisters are more vulnerable to infection.
Burns are no joke, especially when they are on your feet. The most effective way to avoid a burn is to wear closed toed shoes and be aware of your surroundings. If you do end up with a burn while celebrating, give us a call at 309.661.9975!