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How To Heal An Infected Friction Burn or Blister

Most friction burns are minor burns that can be treated at home.

To treat this burn at home, gently clean the affected area with soap and cold water; this will help reduce swelling and the lower risk of infection.

Afterward, pat the area dry with a clean towel; you can apply an ointment or antibiotic cream to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.

Then wrap the area with a fresh nonstick gauze or loose bandage every day.

You may also take over-the-counter medications to help with the pain.

What Happens If A Friction Burn Gets Infected?

A friction burn is an abrasion where the skin rubs against another surface and tears or wears off.

This burn is not necessarily a burn; however, severe cases can cause burns in the outer layers of the skin due to heat generated from friction.

A typical friction burn affects a wide area of skin that appears raw and red. This affected skin may bleed or leak with fluids depending on the cause of injury.

Friction burns can also become infected if exposed to bacteria.

But, this is more likely to happen if the burn is not adequately taken care of and kept clean or in cases of a weak immune system. If infection occurs, you may experience symptoms such as;

  • Swelling
  • Worsening pain
  • Pus or drainage from the wound
  • Fever
  • Rash that rapidly spreads and becomes bigger
  • Discomfort and abnormal smell in the affected area
  • A high temperature of 38C and higher

Rare cases of an infected burn can also cause blood poisoning or toxic shock syndrome. These conditions can become fatal and debilitating if left untreated.

Signs may include;

  • High temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting

How Are Burn Infections Treated?

To treat an infected burn, you should;
Change your dressing regularly as instructed by your doctor or healthcare provider. If the bandage gets stuck to the skin, soak it in warm water.

Leaving the bandage for an extended period can worsen the infection.

If possible, cover burns with nonstick gauze and wrap them with the bandage material.

Apply recommended ointment and antibiotic cream as directed by your healthcare provider. This will help prevent infections and keep the banding from sticking.

Wash the affected area with soap and water to remove leftover scabs, fluids, creams, or ointment. Afterward, rinse and pat dry with a clean towel. You may also check for signs of an infection.

Change bandages that become wet or dirty

Use over-the-counter medications or prescription medicines to relieve pain. If you have pre-existing health issues, talk to your doctor about them before taking medications.

Suppose you have chronic liver or kidney disease. Do not take ibuprofen or acetaminophen unless a physician recommends it.

Also, children under six months should not be given ibuprofen.

Resist the urge to pop blisters or pinch blisters that have burst open. However, you may drain blister fluids if it causes pain that interferes with your daily routine.

What Does An Infected Burn Blister Look Like?

Blisters occur due to friction; they are painful skin irritations that look like small pockets of elevated skin containing fluids.

A typical blister will heal on its own within 1-2 weeks. The fluids will drain away during this healing process in the first few days.

However, blisters can burst open while healing and become infected. Germs and bacteria can enter the blister and prolong healing when this happens.

Symptoms that indicate the onset of an infection include;

Yellow-colored crusts or scabs

This is a hard outer layer that forms on the surface of the skin blister as it heals. As a result, infected blisters begin to have yellowish crusts and scabs.

Cloudy Fluids

Some blisters are filled with fluids, while others have a hard texture, which depends on the cause. However, once a burn blister becomes infected, the fluids become cloudy, resembling pus.

Worsening pain, redness, and swelling in the affected area do not get better over time. Redness may not be visible in people with darker skin due to the skin tone.

Infections, if left untreated, may spread into the skin and bloodstream. This may lead to severe conditions like cellulitis, bacteremia, and sepsis.

How Long Does It Take For Friction Burn To Heal?

Friction burns are usually of two types; minor burns and more severe burns on the face, hand, feet, and genitalia.

A typical minor friction burn will heal on its own within a week.

However, severe burns will take longer and leave permanent scarring or slight discoloration. Sometimes, complications such as an infection may slow down the healing process.

Friction burn can, however, be prevented by;

  • Wearing protective gears during repetitive friction-prone activities.
  • Using preventive dressings including pads and cushioning products to protect areas prone to friction blisters
  • Wearing well-fitting clothes, shoes, and socks that absorb moisture well.
  • Stopping all activities and removing shoes, clothes, or items that are likely to irritate the skin
  • For individuals who sweat a lot, you may decide to apply talcum powder or antiperspirants to your feet as a temporary technique.

What Are Friction Burn Healing Stages?

A burn injury will undergo some process while healing. However, most friction burns or blisters heal on their own within 1-2 weeks.

For most friction burns with blisters, new skin grows beneath the blister while the fluid slowly disappears and the skin naturally dries and peels off.

A blister which serves as a protective bacteria against infection, forms during the early stages of healing.

Avoid popping blisters that can expose the wound underneath to bacteria. Draining blisters is only advisable under dire circumstances.

Afterward, blisters may burst open on their own while the fluid naturally drains. When this happens, do not peel off the skin on the top; carefully disinfect or wash it with mild soapy water. Finally, cover the blister and surrounding area with a sterile dry dressing.

Crusts and scabs form after the blister drains until the wounds heal completely. These are hardened surfaces that appear on the skin surface.

If it is not treated correctly after blister bursts or popping blisters with infected objects, Burns may sometimes become infected if it is not treated correctly.

Permanent scars or slight discoloration may occur after the burn completely heals.

Does Friction Burn Blister?

A friction burn occurs when the skin repetitively rubs against an object or another surface. Typically, this results in blisters which are small pockets of raised skin filled with fluids.

Blisters develop in the top layer of the skin in response to the friction wound. Friction blisters occur due to contact and pressure between the skin and another surface.

This constant friction and force lead to mechanical separation of the top layer of the skin, which eventually fills with fluid and forms a blister. Blisters develop quicker if severe pressure and movement are applied, or the skin is damp.

There are factors more likely to trigger a friction burn, such as;

  • Excessive sweating makes it easier for friction blisters to form on moist skin.
  • Wrong fitting clothes and shoes that rub against the skin
  • Frequent exercises
  • Very physical occupations
  • Wearing tight and uncomfortable clothes or shoes that constantly rub against the skin.
  • Hard and rough fabrics or tools
  • Thin socks or socks that do not absorb moisture well enough

Although most friction burns may appear as minor burns, it is best to identify the severity of burns to know when to seek medical help in case of a complication.

Do not apply any lotion or ointment on burns that may irritate your skin, avoid popping blisters and pinching blister wounds.

Always clean burn blisters properly when they burst open.

References:

NHS: Burns And Scalds

Torklaw: Friction Burns

Fairview Patient Education: Infected Burn, With Cream Or Ointment Dressing

MedicalNewsToday: How To Identify And Treat Infected Blisters

MedicalNewsToday: Where Do Blisters Come From

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