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  • Sunburns—a not so minor injury

    Protect yourself from sunburns and the life-threatening possibilities they can create

    Often when we think of burn injuries, our minds jump to fire burns, electrical burns, etc. But how many of us forget about “simple” sunburns? (Well, “simple” may be an understatement.)

    Although the sun doesn’t seem too dangerous shining from light years away (or during the cold months of winter), ultraviolet rays can cause serious skin damage. UV rays can damage your skin even on cloudy days, through haze, or through fog and often lead to painful sunburns. Research shows that sunburns can even develop into life-threatening skin cancer later in life.

    So what can you do to protect yourself?  The following tips are from The American Burn Association:

    Skin & eye protection:

    • Use liberal amounts of sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15, even on cloudy days. Wear dark sunglasses to protect your eyes (even if you wear contacts with UV protection).
    • Select shaded areas for outdoor activities, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.
    • Wear a broad-brimmed hat, tightly woven clothing, and, where possible, a long-sleeved shirt (preferably cotton), and long pants when you spend long periods in the sun. If you’re wearing a baseball cap and plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, tuck a handkerchief under the back of the hat to prevent sunburn on your neck.
    • Avoid tanning altogether. There is no safe way to tan. Damage to your skin from the sun and tanning beds can happen in just minutes of exposure to UV light. Tanning beds typically emit mostly deeper penetrating UVA rays, but some do emit UVB rays (which cause sunburns), too.
    • Avoid using sunlamps
    • Understand your medications. Certain prescriptions can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. Consult your doctor with any questions about your medications.
    • Infants have especially sensitive skin. And, unfortunately, they aren’t born with a skin protection system. They also can’t tell us if they are too hot or move on their own out of the sun, so it’s up to us to protect them.


    We don't want to just mask the pain of a burn, we want to get rid of it! BurnFree® gives you instant burn relief by drawing the heat out of your skin.

    How to protect your baby’s skin:

    • Keep babies less than one years old out of direct sunlight to prevent skin damage and dehydration. Keep them in the shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a stroller canopy.
    • Dress your baby in protective but loose clothing that will cover their skin: long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat.
    • 15-30 minutes before going outside, apply PABA-free sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30,. Reapply every 2-3 hours, especially if children are playing in the water often. Do not apply sunscreen to babies under six months old.
    • Make sure children have a water break every 30 minutes when they’re exercising or playing outdoors in high heat and humidity. Be sure kids drink plenty of water before, during, and after outside activity. If shade is available, insist on breaks to cool off for a few minutes every once in awhile.
    • Don’t let infants or young children play or sleep in direct sun in a playpen, stroller, etc.


    Sunscreen Tips:

    When it comes to the sun, there are two types of UV rays that can harm your skin: UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays typically cause sunburns. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are associated with wrinkling, leathering, and other aspects of aging, not to mention skin cancer. It’s important to select the right type of sunscreen and to use it over and over again.

    • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (which blocks about 94% of UVB rays). Make sure to choose a sunscreen that has both UVA UVB protection.
    • Reapply ever 2-3 hours, as well as after swimming. No matter how strong the sunscreen is, it won’t last all day.
    • Pay special attention to exposed areas such as the face, neck, ears, back, shoulders, knees, and tops of feet
    • If applying multiple substances (i.e. bug repellant) on your skin, always put the sunscreen on first and wait 30 minutes before applying the other substances.
    • No sunscreen provides 100% protection. Even after applying sunscreen, cover up with a hat, long-sleeve shirt, and pants.

    Knowing how to keep yourself burn-free during the summer will allow you to enjoy the great outdoors without having to worry about treating an injury. If you do find yourself with a sun burn, don’t panic. Try using Sunburn Rescue or BurnFree. They help remove and evaporate the heat from your skin as well as provide some pain relief.

    Check out our article “First Aid for Burns” for more information about burn safety.







  • What's the Difference Between a Burn and a Scald?

    what's the difference between a burn and a scald?

    Many of us may be familiar with the impact a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree burn may have on the human body, but most of us aren’t as familiar with the impact a scald can have. Since scald recognition and prevention may not be discussed as often as burns, let's talk about scalds and how you can prevent scald injuries in your home.

    What’s the difference between a burn and a scald?

    Understanding the definition and differences of these two injuries will help you decide if the pain you or a loved one is experiencing is a burn or a scald.

    Burns: Although burns are complex injuries with no solid definition, in simplest terms a burn can be defined as damage to skin cells and tissue caused by fire, heat, electricity, chemicals, radiation, light, or friction. If the burn is severe, it can even damage muscle and fat. And if it's deep enough, it can reach bone.

    Scalds: Unlike burns, scalds may only damage several layers of skin. They typically don’t reach connective or nerve tissue, muscle, fat, or bone. However, while many scalds can be considered as superficial or first degree burns, if severe enough, scalds can be just as fatal as a third degree burn and may even lead to death. A scald is caused when a portion of skin is exposed to a hot liquid or steam. For instance, scalding is often caused by hot bath water, hot food, cooking fluids like grease, or a hot drink.

    What's the impact of a scald injury?

    Many people may believe that scalds are not serious burn injuries. But it's important to understand that, like second and third degree burns, scalds may require skin grafting and can have deadly effects if not treated in time.

    According to U.S. News and World Reports, “In the United States, burns from hot tap water result in about 1,500 hospital admissions and 100 deaths per year.” The difference between a scald being a minor burn or being deadly are determined by several factors including:

    • Prolonged exposure to the hot substance
    • The temperature of the substance
    • The nature of the substance (is it sticky? does it retain heat?)
    • The extent of body area scalded
    • The location of the scald

    Also, scalds can happen fast. Shriner’s Hospital states, “People of all ages can be burned in 30 seconds by flowing liquid that is 130 degrees F; at 140 degrees F, it takes only 5 seconds; at 160 degrees F, it only takes 1 second.”

    Who typically experiences scalding?

    Even though people of all ages can be scalded, the three groups that are most likely to experience a scald are young children, the elderly, and those with disabilities and special needs. These groups may not be able to say or understand that their bath water or drink is too hot. And because of mobility restrictions, they may not be able remove themselves from an unsafe situation.

    Additionally, young children and the elderly typically have thinner skin than the average adult or teen. The thinner your skin, the quicker it’ll burn making these groups more susceptible to scalding.

    But just because the three groups listed above are more likely to experience a scald, let's not forget that a scald injury can happen to anyone. It's important to learn preventative measures now to make sure you and your family are safe.

    How can I prevent scald injuries in my home?

    Scalds typically occur at home in the bathroom or kitchen. Since we know the two most common places where they occur, you can enact preventative measures in your home now.

    Bathroom Safety

    • Supervise young children as they use tap water to wash hands, face, etc. (According to Safe Kids USA, “hot tap water burns tend to be the most severe and cover a larger portion of the body than other scald burns.”)
    • Lower the temperature setting on your water heater to 120°F or less.
    • To check water temperature when filling the tub for a child, move your hand through the water. If it feels too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for a child, elderly, or those with special needs.
    • Place your child on the opposite end of the tub from the faucet. Position them so their back is toward the faucet.
    • Install a grab bar in your shower.
    • A safe bathing temperature for a healthy adult is 100°F ( to test the water temperature, run water for 2 minutes and use a cooking thermometer to measure heat.)

    Kitchen Safety

    • When cooking, face pot handles inward so that no one can walk past and accidently hit the pot or so a child can’t pull it off the stove.
    • Follow instructions and cautions for heating items in a microwave—even the steam from a bag of popcorn can scald you.
    • Supervise children in kitchen and dining areas.
    • Mark a “kid-free zone” in the kitchen close to the stove (with tape) and explain to your child why they cannot cross the line.
    • Never hold a child in your arms while preparing hot foods or liquids.
    • Keep hot foods and liquids high out of a child’s reach.
    • Keep BurnFree in your kitchen or first aid kit


    To learn more about scald prevention safety and tips, check out these links

    And while you’re at it, beef up on first aid for 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree, and chemical and electrical burns in our article, “First Aid for Burns.” You could even use these tips to help you treat a minor scald.







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