A simple answer is to seek medical attention from your GP or from an emergency department for any burns that you are concerned about.
Most sunburns and minor burns do not require medical attention. If you sustain a burn it is recommended that you hold the affected area under cold running tap water for 20 minutes - this reduces the burning process and improves the outcome of a burn, plus it helps to relieve the pain of a burn. Cold compresses and simple pain medications (such as paracetamol and ibuprofen) are also helpful for pain relief. Don't apply ice to a burn - freezing your skin causes further injury. Keep the affected area elevated wherever possible to reduce swelling and remove any tight clothing or jewellery (eg rings).
In the event of a severe burn you should apply first aid and call 000 for an ambulance.
For less severe burns it is wise to seek medical attention if
- you are unable to manage your pain
- the skin has blistered over a significant area, especially if the blisters have burst or are larger than a 5 cent piece
- the burned skin has lost sensation and looks “cooked”
- if the burn affects your face, hands, nose, mouth, lips, genitals, eyes or other crucial body areas
- you have sustained a chemical or electrical burn
- you want to receive the best advice on how to prevent visible scarring and skin contracture
- you have other medical problems that may interfere with your healing (eg diabetes)
- you don't know what sort of dressing to apply to your burn
- you have concerns or you're simply not sure what to do!
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