How to Treat Burns – First Aid Best Practices

It is essential to learn how to Treat Burns by administering first aid. Here at Harberry Training, we provide First Aid training courses in Belfast, to ensure individuals that they have the correct skills in case of an emergency. 

Call 999 if:

  • The burn penetrates all layers of the skin
  • Skin is leathery or charred looking and has white, black or brown patches
  • The victim is an infant or elderly senior


Necessary Aid to Treat All Burns: 

  • Stop the burning immediately by helping the individual “stop, drop and roll” to smother the flames. 
  • Put out the fire or help the individual and stop the contact with hot liquid, steam or other materials
  • Remove smouldering material from individual 
  • Remove burned clothing and if the clothing sticks, cut or tear around it.

How to Treat First Degree Burns

This is a burn affecting the uppermost layer of the skin. 

  • Cool burn by running under cool (not cold) water or immersing it in cool water until the pain subsides. Use cool compresses if running water isn’t available. 
  • Protect burn by covering it with sterile and non-adhesive bandage. Do not apply fragrance oils and creams. Apply a petroleum-based ointment to the area 2-3 times a day.
  • Treat the pain by ingesting pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Panadol) or ibuprofen (Nurofen).
  • Seek medical aid if you see signs of infection such as redness, increased pain, swelling or oozing. If there are burn blisters larger than 2 inches, seek medical help. 
  • Doctors may examine the wound and prescribe additional medication such as antibiotics.

How to Treat Second Degree Burns

These are burns that affect the top two layers of the skin. 

  • Cool the burn by immersing it in cool water for 10-15 minutes.  Do not apply ice as this may lower the body temperature and cause further damage to the burn.
  • Protect the burn by covering it loosely with a sterile bandage and secure in place with gauze or tape
  • Prevent shock to the person by laying them flat (unless they have a head, neck or leg injury) and elevate their feet about 12 inches. Elevate the burn area above heart leave, if possible and cover the individual with a blanket or coat. 
  • Seek medical help and have a doctor examine the burn. Depending on the severity, they can prescribe antibiotics and pain medication as well as administer a tetanus shot, if necessary. 

Third Degree Burns – Call 999

This is a very severe and potentially life-threatening burn. Third degree burns affect the top 3 layers of the skin.

  • Call 999
  • Protect the burn area by covering it loosely with sterile, non-stick bandages or for larger area, materials that won’t leave lint in the wound.
  • Separate toes and fingers with dry, sterile dressings.
  • Do not soak the burn in water or apply oils and ointments as this increases the risk of infection.
  • Unless the individual has a head, neck or leg injury, try to lay them flat and elevate their feet about 12 inches.
  • Elevate the burn area above the heart level if possible and cover the individual with a blanket. 
  • For airway burns, do not place a pillow underneath the individual as this may close the airway.
  • Have individuals with facial burns sit up.
  • Check the pulse and breathing monitor for shock until emergency medical aid arrives.


If you want to know how to treat burns, Harberry training clinic will teach you everything you need to know.

If you’re interested in First Aid Courses NI, don’t hesitate to browse our courses now. 

Come and see us in person:

first aid bear that shows how to dress burns