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How to treat electrical burns

19th April 2022

How to treat electrical burns

Electrical burns are a well-known risk associated with electrical work, and while many of us know how to avoid these types of injuries, it is just as important to know how to treat these injuries if they were to unfortunately occur.

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Types of electrical burns

There are several types of electrical burns, all requiring different types and levels of treatment:

Superficial Burns:

Superficial electrical burns are often minor and cover a small area of the body and the very top layer of skin.

The signs that you have been affected by a superficial electrical burn include:

·         Pain

·         Redness

·         Swelling

·         Skin turning white when touched

Partial Thickness Burns:

These types of burns usually effect the top layer of skin, as well as the secondary layer. The severity of these burns is dependant on how widespread they are, with these types of burns covering a large area (more than 2-3 inches) can be considered severe. These burns can also be considered severe if they occur in certain areas, including:

·         Hands

·         Feet

·         Face

·         Pelvic Regions

·         Over any major joint

The signs that you have been affected by a partial thickness electrical burn include:

·         Pain

·         Redness

·         Swelling

·         Blistering

Full Thickness Burns

The most severe of electrical burns, Full Thickness electrical burns not only affect layers of skin, but the tissues beneath it.

The signs that you have been affected by a full thickness electrical burn include:

·         Redness

·         Swelling

·         Blistering

·         Numbness of the affected area

·         Affected area turning white or black in appearance

How to treat electrical burns

When treating any burn, from mild to severe, it is important to execute the correct steps quickly to minimise further damage.

Superficial Burns & Mild Partial Thickness Burns:

The proper treatment for superficial electrical burns and mild partial thickness burns is as follows:

·         Apply cold water to the area, whether that be soaking, running under a tap or using a compress. It is important to note that iced/ice cold water should not be applied to burns

·         Cover the area with sterile dressing, ensuring that the area is clean and dry before doing so, this will protect the wound from any friction and possible infection

·         Do not apply any additional creams or ointments to the burn, cleaning the wound and dressing it appropriately is the best course of action

·         Use over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce any pain and/or swelling after the burn

Severe Partial Thickness Burns & Full Thickness Burns:

Severe partial thickness burns and full thickness burns can often occur when the person involved becomes part of the electrical circuit, so extra steps need to be taken, not just for the safety of the person that is injured, but for those around them:

·         The power must be turned off immediately

·         The person must not be touched by anyone else

·         Emergency services should be contacted immediately for further professional treatment

In every situation that involves electrical equipment, the proper precautions must always be taken to avoid injury, but if the worst was to happen, being prepared to minimise the damage is just as important.