Care for electrical burns

Electrical burns happen when there is direct contact with an electrical source such as grounded appliances and the electricity passes through the body. The severity varies from first to third degree burns which depend on the amount of time in contact with the current, strength, type of current and the body area where the current passed.

A second and third degree burn can be deep and cause numbness and affects the internal organs.

Indications of electrical burns

  • Sweaty skin
  • Feeling cold
    Electrical burns

    The severity varies from first to third degree burns which depend on the amount of time in contact with the current, strength, type of current and the body area where the current passed.

  • Paleness
  • Rapid pulse rate

Treatment

  • Avoid touching the affected person if he/she is still in contact with the electric current. Unplug the appliance or turn off the power source to stop the flow of the current. Stay on a dry surface such as a pile of papers or books, rubber doormat and use a broom handle in pushing the affected person. Avoid using anything made of metal.
  • The person touching the wound of the affected person should first wash his/her hands to prevent the risk of infection especially when there is an open wound such as blisters. Use a clean cloth, gloves, gauze and anything that can be used in caring for burns.
  • Avoid popping blisters caused by burns to prevent infection.
  • Rinse the affected area using cool water to lower the temperature of the skin and lessen the severity of the burn. Hold the burned area under cool running water for at least 10-30 minutes until the pain subsides.
  • Wash the area using cold soap and cool water and lather soap gently to prevent breaking the blisters or cause irritation of the skin. Pat dry the skin using a clean cloth and avoid scrubbing the area.
  • If the affected area is on the hands, feet, arms and legs, place the area in a basin filled with cool water. Apply a cool compress if the burn is on the face or body.
  • Cover the burned area using a dry and sterile gauze bandage. Avoid using a blanket or towel to prevent sticking of loose fibers on the surface of the wound.
  • Avoid removing clothing that is stuck on the burned area. Simply cut around the area to remove the loose parts of the clothing.
  • If the affected person is not breathing, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately especially if the burn is caused by a high-voltage wire or lightning strike.
  • Keep the person warm to prevent chills and worsen the symptoms of shock.
  • If bandages become wet and soiled, change the bandages. Clean the area and apply the prescribed antibiotic ointment and cover with a new sterile non-stick gauze.

If there are changes in color of the affected area such as purplish discoloration and swelling, burn spreads deep into the skin, greenish or pus is oozing from the wound and fever, seek medical help immediately.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on electrical burns is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage electrical burns by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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