The evidence on first aid treatment of burns

The treatment of burns in a workplace setting has always been a contentious matter between first aid trainers and equipment suppliers.  First aid says that initial treatment of burns should be the application of cold running water but equipment suppliers often include burn treatment creams.  What’s the evidence for burn creams?

In December 2010, the Cochrane Library produced a collection of reviews concerning the treatment of burns.  Some of the information in the collection  should be of great use and interest to workplace first aiders.

One report states:

“In the early management of minor burn injury,do silver based products improve burn infection control and healing?

There is not enough evidence to decide whether silver based products improve healing, infection control, pain or other outcomes in people with minor burns.”

Another says

“In the early management of minor burn injury, what is the best method of cooling the burn wound?

Immediate cooling of burns is effective and safe at reducing the severity of tissue damage and relieving pain. Optimal duration and temperature of cooling is unclear. Exposure to ice or ice water may cause harm.”

One focussed on early burns dressings:

“In the early management of minor burns,what is the clinical effectiveness of various wound dressings?

Treatment of minor burns with hydrocolloid, polyurethane film or silicon coated nylon dressings may improve wound healing time, and in some cases pain and other outcomes, but there is not enough evidence to clearly decide on the best dressing.”

SafetyAtWorkBlog is not a medical website and workplace first aiders are strongly encouraged to clarify any confusion over first aid burn treatments with first aid experts or occupational physicians.

Of course, the best way to treat burns is to avoid them in the first place through job redesign and risk assessments.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories chemicals, evidence, first aid, guidance, OHS, research, safety, UncategorizedTags , ,

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