Shelley Osterloh ReportingThe Burn Center at the University of Utah Hospital serves the widest geographical area of any burn center in the Country. In this segment of U to You, Shelley Osterloh tells how to treat burns, and how to avoid them.
While a small burn will heal on its own, Annette Matherly at the University of Utah Burn Center says a burn that is larger than the size of a dime needs to be kept very clean.
Annette Matherly, Nurse Educator, Burn Trauma Intensive Care: “Bacteria starts to grow after about 24 to 48 hours. It is very important to wash that area with a mild soap and to ensure that you put an antibiotic solution on it.”
Matherly says the most common burns among small children are burns from water right out of the tap. The recommended temperature for water heaters is no higher than 120 degrees.
When it comes to children older than four, three-fourths of the burned patients are boys and the cause is usually playing with matches and lighters.
To treat some extreme burns, doctors may use "cultured skin" grown from the patient.
Annette Matherly, Nurse Educator: “They're able to grow epithelia, which is one cell thick, in little petrie dishes and we're able to cover an area of the patient with that."
The U of U Burn Center says you should see a doctor if a burn covers 10% or more of your body or involves your face or hands.
Doctors say babies, small children and the elderly should be seen by a doctor for any kind of burn. Even sunburns can be serious in these groups because of dehydration.