Blog > Burns > How Long Should You Keep A Burn Covered?

How Long Should You Keep A Burn Covered?

A typical burn injury should be covered for 7 to 14 days while it heals.

However, how long you keep your burn covered may depend on the progress of your recovery, the burn site, and the depth of the burn.

It is advisable to keep your burns covered to avoid getting infected, dirty, or irritated. This is because your skin’s surface is still open and easily prone to germs, dirt, and inflammation.

Change your burn dressings regularly or immediately become sticky, painful, smelly, and soaked. Endeavor always to keep all burn coverings or dressings clean.

When Should You Stop Covering A Burn?

A burn injury should be dressed using ointment and a bandage. Dressings should be checked every 24 hours while reassessing the burns in 48hours.

Depending on the wound’s progress and type of wound dressing, dressings may be left for 7 to 14 days while healing occurs.

Changing the dressings will help once the wound becomes painful and smelly. It would help if you also changed the dressing once it gets soaked.

Hot flames, liquids, chemicals, electricity, and fire are the most sources of burn injuries. Contacting hot objects or agents like grease or tar can also cause them.

A burn may be severe or mild depending on the skin’s sensitivity, how hot the agent was, and the duration of the burn. There are three levels of a burn injury that may occur;

First-degree burns

A First-degree burn is a mild type of burn that affects the top layer of the skin known as the epidermis. It usually causes minor damage to the skin.

Second-degree burns

A second-degree burn is a partial-thickness burn that goes through the dermis, the second layer of the skin.

Third-degree burns

A third-degree burn is a severe type of burn called thickness burns because it damages both layers of the skin and may affect underlying muscles, bones, and tendons.

Do Burns Heal Faster When Covered?

Most wounds, including burn injuries, need a moist environment to heal. Therefore, you should keep burn wounds covered while it heals. An uncovered wound is more likely to dry out surface cells, slow down healing, or increase pain.

Burn dressings and coverings help promote a moist environment for the injury.

It helps protect the area from infection, inflammation, dirt, germs, and further injury.

It also helps regenerate blood vessels faster while keeping the new skin and other cells alive; this reduces the chances of inflammation.

However, some exceptions require leaving wounds uncovered. For example, minor cuts and scrapes that progress into small dry scabs should not be covered.

Pressure ulcers on the heels can also be left exposed to dry. Visit your physician if your wound looks deep, infected, or does not heal properly.

Do Burns Need Air To Heal?

Leaving a burn wound uncovered can help it stay dry and heal, but this depends on the progress of healing and where the burn occurred.

If the injury is in an area that does not get dirty or rubbed by clothing, you can leave it uncovered.

However, if your burn wound is in an area that quickly gets dirty or irritated, such as your hand or knee, it is best to keep it covered and moist.

Keep the wound clean and change the adhesive gauze each day if possible.

Wounds like scrapes that cover a large skin area should be kept moist. Keep it clean to speed up the healing process and reduce scarring.

There are different types of bandages available to dress a burn wound. Some burns are more severe and will need an advanced dressing type.

How Long Should You Keep A Second-Degree Burn Covered?

A second-degree burn is a partial thickness burn that penetrates the second layer of the skin. This type of burn should be kept covered for 7 to 14 days while healing progresses.

However, it may take longer, depending on the depth of the wound, the affected area, and the type of dressing.

You may apply antibiotic ointment or cream to areas left uncovered during this healing process.

In addition, use unscented lotions recommended by your physician to keep the area well moisturized.

This helps reduce the development of blisters and skin tears. It also decreases itching and makes movement easier.

Sometimes, a second-degree burn blister wound may be minor and treatable at home or so severe that it requires a more advanced dressing.

Cases of extreme severity may require a skin graft or skin substitute to heal.

A skin graft is a type of surgery where the dead skin around the burn area is removed and replaced with a healthy one. The replacement is often gotten from another part of the body.

How Often Should You Change Dressing On A Second Degree Burn?

There are several types of dressings for burns. A burn dressing should be changed every day or for 3 to 5 days.

You can also change the bandage when it becomes smelly, painful, wet, or soaked. If needed, take pain medications before changing your wound dressing.

You should also;

  • Wash your hands and set up supplies in a clean area
  • Dispose of all dirty supplies immediately after removing them
  • Fill a basin with clean, warm water and gently wash your burn area with soap. Afterward, gently pat dry and wipe the area to remove drainage and crusting.
  • To Remove old dressings, lookout for signs of an infection. Does it have a foul smell? Or a different drainage color
  • If the dressings stick to your wound, drip warm water on the bandage to loosen it
  • Use a sterile non-adherent burn dressing to cover open burn areas.
  • Do not apply ointment directly on your burns

Why Should You Cover A Burn After Cooling It?

Cool a burn under cold running water immediately it happens, reducing pain and scarring.

The water should be at low pressure while cooling should be for at least 20 minutes to reduce the impact of the injury.

Burns should be covered afterward to prevent infection and keep the area clean; it also keeps air from entering the affected skin’s surface.

Use a sterile non-stick bandage to prevent it from sticking to the burn.

Avoid putting your whole body in water while cooling down the burn, as this may cause hypothermia. Instead, focus the water on the burn site.

urns are covered to keep it clean and prevent infection because the burn site is easily irritated and prone to infections.

Covering a burn will often be painful, but you may use pain medication. Always keep calm while dressing burns.

Seek immediate medical attention if your burn is severe, around your face, genital, or if you are not sure of the severity.

Do not apply butter, toothpaste, or cream on a burn, which will worsen the condition.

Most burns will heal within 2 to 3 weeks. Keep all burn sites and surrounding areas clean and moisturized while healing progresses.

Avoid bumping, scratching, or scraping burn wounds. Look out for signs of an infection and strictly follow treatment instructions given by your physician.

References:

British Red Cross: Learn First Aid For Someone Who Has A Burn

Nationwide Children’s: Dressing Change; Burns

American Family Physician: Caring For Your Cuts, Scrapes And Wounds

Cleveland Clinic: Should You Bandage A Cut Or Sore Or Let It Air Out?

MSKTC: Wound Care After Burn Injury

Was this article helpful?

Most popular

Most discussed