Any good chef – or bad chef for that matter – knows that the occasional kitchen accident happens. Grabbing a hot pan, skimming your arm against a hot oven surface, or a flambé gone array can all result in an unwelcomed kitchen burn. Knowing how to treat these injuries can prevent scarring and infection problems down the road.Fast, superficial burns are a battle wound experienced by even the most amateur kitchen participant, especially on the hands and arms. For first degree burns like these where the skin is only red, hasn’t been broken, and no blistering is evident, conventional wisdom recommends running the burn under cold, clean water until the pain subsides. Afterwards, an antibiotic cream or aloe can be applied to further protect and sooth the area.
If your mind was seriously somewhere else when you were grabbing that scorching lid or you got clumsy with the bacon grease, you could have a more severe burn. Common symptoms of a second degree burn are immediate blistering with swelling, redness, and lots of pain. A first step to help the burn is to soak the affected area for about 15 minutes under cool water. Since this is likely to be a deeper injury, you’ll want to protect it with a sterile bandage and antibiotic cream for the days following the incident, making sure that it doesn’t show signs of infection such as renewed redness, swelling, or puss.
A third degree burn can seem similar to a second degree one, but a lack of feeling from nerve damage or varying skin color can mean that it’s much deeper. Anytime a third degree burn is suspected, you’ll want to plan a quick trip to your local emergency room.
It’s important to note that any burn is best handled by your physician, especially if it’s on your face or genitals and larger than two inches. A combination of the two probably makes for a particularly bad day.
Of course, a little common sense and precaution while cooking is the best prevention for burns while in the kitchen.
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