Our fingers are exposed to many sources of burns just because we use them to touch and hold. Heat sources that cause burns on fingers include open flames, stove burners, steam from boiling liquids, caustic chemicals and electrical burns. While you can treat burns on fingers with simple home remedies like applying honey, there are also some precautions to take to avoid aggravating the condition.
Symptoms of Burns on Fingers
Superficial burns affect the top layer of the skin. This sort of burn will be red and sore without blisters. A mild sunburn is an example of a superficial burn. A partial thickness, second-degree burn affects deeper layers of skin resulting in blisters and bright red, shiny skin. A partial thickness burn is usually very painful. Finally, full thickness burns involve all layers of skin and can sometimes burn the bone. These burns usually result in charred looking skin. Full thickness burns are usually NOT painful because the nerves in the skin have been destroyed.
Burns on fingers are usually not life threatening but can result in complications such as infection and contractures that may result in loss of function or loss of the finger.
Remedies for Burns on Fingers
Before beginning evaluation and first aid for a burn victim, the rescuer should be sure that he is not at risk for being burned. Superficial and partial thickness burns on fingers can usually be treated with first aid at home. Full thickness burns should be treated immediately by a healthcare professional. Home remedies for superficial or partial thickness burns on fingers may include:
How to treat a burn:
1. Cool the fingers
Begin by cooling the burn. If the skin is intact, hold the burned hand under running clean cool water. Be sure that the water is cool and NOT cold or warm. This action will help stop the burning. After soaking or flushing fingers in water, use sterile bandages to cover them.
2. Use painkillers
Over-the-counter pain killers may help reduce the pain associated with the burn. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can also help reduce the inflammation and swelling associated with the burn. Be sure to take these pain killers with food to lessen your chance of developing an upset stomach.
3. Use moisturizer
After cooling the burned fingers, you can use a burn ointment IF the skin is not broken. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before applying any moisturizer to an open wound.
4. Use honey
Again, cool the burn before applying any home remedy. Research seems to indicate that honey has pretty amazing anti-bacterial properties when applied to the skin. Apply a thin layer of honey to an intact superficial or partial thickness burn.
5. Apply protective gel/cream
Aloe gel is an inexpensive gel that you can try for a superficial or partial thickness burn. Be sure to only use it on intact skin and blisters. Silver sulfadiazine cream (trade name is Silvadene) is a burn medication that is available by prescription from your healthcare provider. This drug can help promote healing and offer some protection from infection. Your healthcare provider will have to examine your burn and prescribe the medication. Be aware that it is a sulfa product so do not use it if you are allergic to any of the sulfa drugs.
Precautions for Treating Burns on Fingers
1. Avoid using some things
There are many traditional remedies that you should not use for treating burns on fingers. These include butter, oils, or ice. Cool running water will cool a burn much more efficiently than blowing on the burn.
2. Avoid popping the blisters
Blisters are nature’s protection for the tender skin underneath the burn that can be very prone to infection. Unless directed otherwise by your healthcare provider, leave blisters alone! The intact skin of a blister will help decrease the chances of infection.
3. Know when to seek medical help
Most minor burns will heal very well with first aid treatment. It is important to know when to seek medical treatment:
- If the skin of your fingers is badly blistered, charred, and especially if the pain is very intense or if you have no pain at all, get in to seek emergency medical intervention.
- See your provider if the burn is not healing within a week.
- If the burn is extensive (more than 3 square inches burned), seek medical help.
- If you have burns on your face or neck in addition to your fingers, be seen immediately.
- Finally, if you have swelling or signs of infection, see your medical provider.
4. Prevent future burns
The best treatment for burns on fingers is prevention. Be aware of your surroundings particularly when you are using any heat source or electricity. Also, remember that hot bath water can cause severe burns especially in children and the elderly. Set your hot water heater to 110 degrees to prevent scalding in the bathtub. You should know that some chemicals can cause burns so wear rubber gloves when using household or industrial chemicals.