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Burns

Damages on the skin caused by fire, heat from physical or chemical combustion or due to the effects of electrical shocks are known as burns . Most burns heal easily, and are quite normal and most often take place at home, however there may be serious burns that require long periods of hospitalization and therapy. On the parameters of the damaged caused, and on depth and size of the affected skin, all burns are classified under three headings or degree's called first, second or third degree burns. Most common burns for example: sunburns, affect only the superficial outer layer of the skin and are called as first degree burns and are easily curable, the more harmful second-degree burns can affect and penetrate to some parts of the underlying skin layer, the dermis and are more serious and take longer to heal and can have scar tissue. The third and most dangerous degree affects all the layers on the victim's skin, the muscles, the bones, and even the nerves including blood vessels below them are seriously burnt in such cases and scarring is permanent and death may also result. Tissue scarring is extremely serious and these cases are always emergencies with the victims life almost always in danger and extensive plastic surgery and skin grafting techniques have to be used to repair damaged and lost tissue, and to decrease skin scarring.

The common causes of burns are almost always accidents involving spilled scalding hot water, a mishap with hot oil or grease, mishaps with hot foods, or cases of sunburns. The most serious burns can be due to fire, can involve accidents with steam, or with hazardous chemicals and acids. In a separate category are burns caused by electricity, these come about by mishaps involving accidental contact with exposed wiring and defective sockets, these burns are however very deceptive and even in cases where damage and injury to the skin is minimal, internal injuries may be extensive and complicated.

Supplements and herbs

Most first degree and some second degree burns can be treated by self administering appropriate drugs or ointments, however if the burns are very serious, one should immediately seek medical attention and care. In order to start the healing process prepare by first immersing the area that has been burnt for about 15 minutes in cold water, it should be remembered that if the burn has formed blisters, these should not be allowed to be open or ruptured, alternately you can soothe and clean the area using cold compresses by massaging the area gently with a soft cotton cloth. The next step after this soothing massage or cleansing is to use a gel of aloe vera as a topical ointment on the affected area, alternately you can also dress the burnt area in a cloth that has been soaked in chamomile tea, another option would be the use of lavender oil , the oil will serve both: a pain relieving analgesic function as well as an anti-inflammatory and will also greatly soothe the affected area. The next step would be to take care of the possibility of infection setting in a cream of the herb calendula or as an alternate the herbal cream of goldenseal can be used as an anti-infection ointment on the area with a light and porous dressing.

While the body is recovering from burns, it needs a lot of nutrients to speed up the healing process. All such supplements and herbs or vitamins should in the cases of first degree burns be consumed on a regular basis for about a week or two during recovery as the affected region is healed. A combination of the herb which stimulates connective tissue growth gotu kola and the herb Echinacea, can be very effective in this regard. Along with these herbs one should also consume the vitamins A, C, and E, which are vital nutrients and the essential trace mineral zinc in tablet form, these supplements will strengthen the immune system and speed skin reconstruction and tissue repair, they also have a role to play in minimizing the appearance of scar tissue.

Homeopathy

For the therapy of first degree burns and during the recovery process certain homeopathic medicines can be administered at 6, 12 or 30th strength or in other strengths as determined. Dosage should be about once every fifteen minutes and these time period can be increased to once an hour or once in two hours as progress is made in recovery from the burn. A tincture made from a combination the herbs calendula and hypericum can be used as a topical ointment, this tincture can also be used by mixing or diluting in water in a ratio of 1 parts tincture to 5 parts water and the ratio can be increased or decreased depending on the symptoms and the healing process.

  • Apis
    Apis is to be used where there is a presence of great swelling, or a rosy red color in the affected area, the burnt area may be sore and sensitive with sensations of intense stinging pains or a prickly and burning feeling. The victim may sweat a lot and the skin may feel dry and hot. Apis is to be suggested for the treatment of first degree burns especially in cases where burns may form small vesicles in the affected area and the skin may appear puffy. Apis may also be used in cases of the formation of blisters on the tongue due to the consumption of scalding hot food or liquid, the condition of the patient may worsen in a hot environment and during movement and there may be a lot of pain in the affected area even when it is slightly touched, or pressure is applied, the patient may feel better after having a bath with cold water, and will prefer an area with cool air. In all such cases apis should be suggested as a herbal cure.
  • Arsenicum
    Arsenicum is to be used when there is a burning sensation on the skin long after the accident, the skin may feel as if it is on fire. There may be the development on the affected region of infected blisters which may have a foul smelling and sometimes bloody, bluish or black discharge. Other types of uses for arsenicum are in cases where there is severe burns, a blackened skin of the burnt area, if there is any gangrene. Arsenicum may also be used in cases where there the tongue is burnt. In cases of accident and minor burns with oil or hot grease, and some cases in the remedy of dry burns. The patient may behave in an anxious manner, and may be very restless, he may become weak, and easily feel chilled. The patient may not take too kindly to the application of cold compresses and will refuse cold drinks and will worsen at night. The patient may feel better in a war place and prefer warm and soothing applications and foods.
  • Calendula
    Calendula may be used as a wash for topical remedy, the relief it gives is immediate and it also acts effectively in the prevention of blisters and is good in the prevention of scar tissue and decreases scarring. It can also be used in the cases of chemical burns to the eye in order to wash chemicals off immediately, it is effective as an ointment in cases of scalding to the mouth and the tongue, and in the treatment of heat caused ulcers.
  • Cantharis
    Cantharis is to be used in cases of burns, scalding of the skin or in treating the symptoms of sunburn, where it can combat or prevent the resultant formation of blisters in sun burns. It can effectively act against the formation of infection, in opened and painful blisters and can treat the ulceration or gangrene formation in the burnt area. Topically it can be used as an ointment in the cases of some second and third degree burns. Equally it is effective in treating the scalds caused to the mouth and the throat due to hot food or liquids. It is also effective in the cases of acidic or chemical burns. It can be used as a wash in cases of chemical burns to the eyes. Cantharis is also good against all sensations of burnt skin which may have a rawness, a stinging sensation, or cases where the skin may smart, burn or if there is itching. It is also effective against inflamed vesicles. The patient may feel or worsen when they are touched or if the affected area is scratched and coffee should not be given along with this treatment, the patient will feel better when he is resting or laid down and cold water will sooth the area.
  • Causticum
    Causticum should only be given in cases of severe burns. It should be used when burns take a long time to heal or in case of burns which are not healing well or quickly enough. It is effective against burns in which the skin has developed cracks, ulcerations and where there is scarring present. It is also good in general use in treating the after-effects of burns or scalds especially if the scar tissue persists; the remedy can also be used in cases where the person has never recovered fully from a burn. It is good as an ointment to soothe the scars of old burns that are causing pain, especially if they reopen or if there is bleeding. The remedy can soothe contracted and stiff burnt flesh, it can heal burns and blisters in the tongue and can be effective in cases of accidental ingestion of caustic and hazardous chemicals. It is also used to treat the gangrene that may set in after a burnt area has been infected, the patient may worsen in environments that are dry and cold and if there are cool drafts present and may feel movement is painful and will worsen in the cool evenings alternately he may feel better in warm and damp weather and in the mornings, in all such cases Causticum is to be prescribed.
  • Hypericum
    Hypericum can be prescribed in cases in which infection has set in to on the burnt area and in cases of damage to the skin caused by radiation damage, from the ultraviolet rays of the sun or due to accidents.
  • Rhus tox.
    Rhus tox. is to be prescribed in cases where the skin has reddened and swollen and there is a sensation of itching and the vesicles formed may experience a burning tingly sensation like hot needles poking through the skin and the area may become dark red. This herb is also effective in curing infection, and in minimizing the appearance of yellow pus-filled blisters and is particularly good against the thickened and hard skin which forms on the affected area. The patient may worsen in cold air and if he is wet and may rub and if he accidentally rubs and scratches himself during the night, the patient may feel a lot better in hot weather and if hot water is used to clean the affected skin.

Treatment should proceed with cleansing the burnt area in cold water for a few minutes and let it soothe the burning sensation till some of the pain goes away. After which a dose of arnica 30C should be administered immediately as it is important to minimize the swelling in the skin and the shock that always comes with burns, following this immersion an ointment of calendula should be applied topically to soothe and relieve the pain the area burnt, a lotion of calendula can also be used in this process, the calendula will speed the healing process. There are other alternatives and herbs that can be used as ointments or as topical lotions, especially if there is a formation of blisters and severe pain in the area affected , in such cases both the herbs hypericum and the herb Urtica urens ( stinging nettle) can be used, these herbs are good bets in all cases in which blisters have formed after a burn.

If the pain in the affected area persists even after taking the initial dose of arnica, then it should be followed once every fifteen minutes by a dose of cantharis 30C s, until the pain has completely subsided. These substance cantharis is an animal product, it is really an insect product, being made from a type of Spanish fly, it is also believed to be an aphrodisiac and is used by some in high doses for this property alone. The aphrodisiac quality is probably attributed to it because it can cause a sort of burning or stinging sensation in the genitals that might stimulate sexual arousal, the treatment using this substance can be carried out for up to two days till the pain subsides; this substance is particularly effective against sunburns. If the sensations associated with the pain is predominantly of a stinging sort, the herb Urtica urens in doses of 30C can be prescribed for ingestion, for the scars of old burns or burns that take a long time to heal, a dose of causticum at about 30C may be prescribed and will prove effective. Phosphorus at a dose of 30C is effective against electrical burns and should be given in measured doses for about two days and twice to thrice daily.

Additional things you may do

Cleaning the affected area daily is a good choice, use a mild soap or solution to wipe and cleanse the area, and then rinsing it well while at the same time stay aware and be careful about open sores and breaking blisters that may have formed due to the burn. After cleansing the area it s important to keep it dry, for this purpose one can use dressings made of sterile and soft gauze that are also porous and will let the skin breathe while at the same time, will keep the area clean and dry, and will keep out bacteria and dirt. Make sure that you consume a lot of fluids, liquids are important to the healing process, avoid feeling dehydrated and do not expose yourself to the sun or take showers with hot water.

Usual dosage

  • Aloe vera gel, apply aloe vera gel to burns as needed. Use store-bought gel or fresh aloe vera leaf.
  • Chamomile, use a strong tea (2 to 3 tea spoons dried chamomile for a cup of hot water). Cool quickly with ice cubes or in a freezer. Apply tea-soaked cloth to affected areas for about fifteen minutes.
  • Calendula cream, apply cream to affected areas of skin. Standardized to contain at least 2% calendula.
  • Echinacea, 200 mg three times daily. Standardized to contain at least 3.5% echinacosides.
  • Gotu kola, 400-500 mg crude herb or 200 mg extract two times daily. Extract standardized to contain 10% asiaticosides.
  • Vitamin E, 400 IU daily until healed. Creams with vitamin E when applied topically, may prevent scarring.
  • Vitamin C, 1,000 mg three times daily until healed. If diarrhea develops, reduce the dose.
  • Vitamin A, 25,000 IU daily for up to 10 days. Pregnant women should not exceed 5,000 IU daily.
  • Zinc, 30 mg daily. Avoid exceeding 150mg zinc daily from all sources.

For kids

See age-appropriate dosages of herbal remedies

In the treatment of burns where kids or children are concerned aloe vera in a pulp, gel or in liquid form is an effective ointment for topical application, first aid procedures should include the application of the aloe vera extract onto the affected area to remove all sensations left by the accident, the aloe vera will relieve the burning or the stinging sensation. The pulp of the aloe vera herb is very soothing to skin, and readily cools down the stinging sensation of the burn and promotes healing, it has a long history and application to this end, and it is good for all kinds of burns as a topical cream. And aloe vera has been used even in hospitals to treat burns proving effective as a healing agent. When the stinging or the burning sensation in the affected region of the skin disappears, a preparation of calendula should be topically applied as to prevent the possibility of infection setting in, the choice of the calendula may either be herbal or homeopathic derived ointment. The roots of the comfrey contain a substance called allatoin and a salve or cream of this herb should be applied to the skin as this will stimulate tissue repair and will greatly speed the healing process and recovery of the affected layer of skin. Children also need their immune systems to be stimulated and a good preparation for this end is a combination of the herbs Echinacea and goldenseal, this combination will greatly boost immune system function, which will greatly aid in the body's fight against infection and will help the body fight off infection. The combination is ideal as the mixture will contain an anti-viral substance Echinacea and a bactericidal substance goldenseal. Dosage for the child should be about thrice a day, after the incidence of a burn and continuing for a week and perhaps as long as ten days as long as the burn is not healed.

Be aware that giving Echinacea daily and continuously for three days will make the herb lose its healing property due to over dosage. Another herb you might make use of is gotu kola which will increase the rate at which skin heals, while this herb is not appropriate for children under the age of four, the appropriate dose or other children is a single dose about thrice daily and in continuation for about a week or until the burned skin is healed.

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