THE simplest, cleanest, easiest and cheapest way of dealing with a burn – which is not serious – is to run the affected skin under running cold water for up to 10 minutes.
That's the advice of Dublin plastic surgeon Patricia Eadie of St James's Hospital, who has warned people against using remedies,
"As plastic surgeons, we worry about people who come to us to have severe burns repaired. Either they, or their family or friends, believe with the best will in the world that using burn sprays, aloe vera skin cream, butter or even cooking oil is a way of limiting burn damage.
"These so-called remedies may be old wives' tales but they are not true and they can make matters much worse. The simplest, cleanest, easiest and cheapest way of dealing with a burn, assuming it is not extensive and needs hospitalisation, is to run the burn under running cold water for up to 10 minutes.
"This has the effect of drawing the heat out – away from the flesh, and this can have a dramatic beneficial effect on lessening the impact of a burn.
"In the case of burns in places that cannot be easily placed under a running tap, the burn area should be placed under a cold shower for at least 10 minutes. People should then see their family doctor or attend an A&E clinic immediately, said the medic who is president of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons.
Dr Eadie pointed to the growing fashion for using candles for atmosphere when entertaining.
"We're just trying to remind people to take greater care with those candles as they can start fires and the outcome can be tragic. Alcohol can be a factor as well, when people fall asleep and are not aware of a fire starting.
"We'd also remind parents of toddlers to keep electric kettle cords and cups of hot liquid away from little hands that can pull the hot fluid down on top of them. This is a regular occurrence. Up to 500 people suffer burns requiring medical treatment every year in Ireland."
She pointed out that if a patient has 60pc degree burns then they only have 40pc of their skin left from which grafts can be taken, leaving not enough skin to graft.
"Though these are extremes, we still see up to 15 of these heart-breaking cases every year, where artificial skin grafts are required. This artificial skin is made from shark and bovine collagen and is extremely expensive to buy. An A5 size sheet costs €2,000 and in the worst cases burns repairs by plastic surgeons can cost up to €400,000 – a truly shocking amount. However, with just a little extra care many of these burns could be avoided."