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"I burned my hand with boiling water. What should I do?"

ZocdocAnswersI burned my hand with boiling water. What should I do?

Question

blisters forming on 2nd and 3rd finger, palm stings too but no red marks or white dots. not sure what a doctor would do, i immersed both hands in cold water and sprayed with dermaplast

Answer

A burn is a common household injury and its ability to heal on its own depends on how severe it is. You should have your hand assessed by a doctor who has experience in burns to determine whether anything further needs to be done. A burn that has formed a blister is by definition at least a second degree burn. A first degree burn is when the skin is simply red like a sunburn. A burn that forms a blister is a second degree burn and its ability to heal on its own depends on how large an area is affected and whether the burn is superficial or deep second degree. A full-thickness, or third degree burn, often feels dry and is leathery brown/black in color. The hand is a sensitive area because it is so highly functional, so any significant burn to the hand should be assessed by a burn specialist in an emergency department or in a burn clinic. The palm has thicker skin, so tends to heal better than the thinner skin on the back of the hand. Until the hand is assessed by a doctor, you should apply bacitracin to any open or blistered areas, cover them with a non-stick dressing (such as Vaseline-impregnated gauze like Adaptic), and then wrap with a dry sterile dressing. The bacitracin has antimicrobial properties and will give the wound a moist environment to heal in. It is not possible to determine if your burn needs further treatment from a doctor or surgeon, or if it will heal on its own, without evaluation by a physician. I strongly advise you to make an appointment to see someone in the next day or so, and you can be referred to a burn specialist if needed.

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