Treatment for a steam burn depends on a few factors including:
- The location of the steam burn
- The severity of the burn
- The age of the victim
- How long the person was exposed to the steam
Can I treat a minor steam burn at home?
Yes, you can usually treat a minor steam burn at home. Before you attempt to treat your burn on your own, ensure it is minor. If it has blistered or is larger than the size of your palm, you need medical treatment.
Once you have run your steam burn under cool (not cold) water for 10 to 15 minutes, allow it to dry and then loosely wrap it in a sterile gauze or bandage to prevent contaminants from entering the wound. You can apply an ointment or cream, but wait until the burn has cooled completely. If you put ointment on the burn before it has cooled, you can hold the heat in the burn and worsen the injury.
Never apply any of the following to any type of burn:
- Egg whites
- Any other non-sterile substances
Burns itch as they heal; do not scratch as you can risk inviting bacteria into the wound. Check your burn twice a day. If it develops blisters, gets worse, shows any sign of infection, or does not heal in 10 days, see your doctor.
How do I treat a serious steam burn?
Do not attempt to treat a serious steam burn on your own. Go straight to the doctor or emergency room. A doctor or burn team will know how to treat a serious burn from steam burn. The medical treatment team will assess the severity of the burn and the extent of the damage. They will clean the wound and let it cool.
Shortly after the initial first aid, the treatment team will evaluate the need for splinting, to prevent loss of range of motion and function. Burn staff will also determine if you need skin grafts. If you receive skin grafts, you may need to wear burn garments for several months or longer for proper healing.
Many patients receive physical therapy within hours of entering a hospital or burn center for a serious steam burn. This early physical therapy helps maintain strength, flexibility, and range of motion. It can also help prevent or at least minimize the development of scar tissue and contractures.
Should some minor steam burns get medical attention?
Yes. If the minor steam burn is on an infant or some over the age of 65, the injured person should get professional medical treatment.
Steam burns on the face or hands should also receive medical attention, as the skin is more delicate and thereby more prone to infection. See your doctor when you get a minor steam burn if you have not had a tetanus shot within ten years.
Is it true that steam burns can be worse than burns from boiling water?
Yes. Steam burns are painful, and they can be more damaging than a burn caused by boiling water at the same temperature.
According to the University of California at Santa Barbara, steam burns are more damaging because steam has been turned into vapor. It takes a lot of energy to turn water into vapor. When that vapor hits your face or arm, it changes back into water. Whenever something changes its form, also known as undergoing a phase change, it releases energy. The phase change when it hits your skin releases energy, which intensifies the burn.
What causes steam burns?
You can get a steam burn from cooking, ironing, or making tea or coffee. A sudden, unexpected burst of steam from an iron can burn wherever it makes contact with your skin. This is usually your arm or face. When cooking, steam burns can occur when you lift the lid of a pot of hot or boiling liquid with your arm or face over the pot.
A steam burn can also occur through use of a humidifier. If a person gets too close to the steam or if the humidifier is defective, they could suffer serious burns.
If you were injured by a steam burn that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us at 844-549-8774 for help finding a lawyer to manage your claim.