Prevent a Burn From Scarring
January 15, 2017 8:38 PM   Subscribe

Long story short, I set my hand on a metal fire ring, and got a pretty nasty burn. I think it's past the point of infection, but I'd love to not have another scar on my hand (I am kind of a serial klutz). Thoughts?

I'm not sure what degree it is, but when it happened I was in the midst of a very rough night (a loved one had died that day) so instead of doing anything about it or even looking at it, I was kind of chewing at it a bit (yeah, I know that was not bright). The next day there was a big gooey bloody patch (the part I chewed at) and some grey ish charred looking skin on the side. Its been about a week, where I just kept it clean/antibiotic ointment etc., and it's generally not oozing anymore. That said it's not really healing great either. As in, a gentle bump makes it bleed and I'm really not familiar with a scab looking like this (it's indented and kind of an ashy, beige, scaley patch). I know y'all are not my doctor but I'd love some suggestions to speed healing and avoid scarring.
posted by Wanderwhale to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Vitamin E (topical) may help with the scarring. But if it's still bleeding after a week, you may need to see a medical professional in case it needs a stitch?
posted by Cat Face at 8:48 PM on January 15, 2017

A couple of pretty bad probably-should-have-gone-to-a-doctor burns I've had healed completely with no scarring after using hydrogel bandages (plus careful daily cleaning) for ten days or so - not a cheap proposition, but it was worth it just in how much pain relief it provides to not have the burn dry and scab up.

But, you're bleeding and that's not a great sign. So you can maybe try a 24-hour cycle with the hydrogel pads to see if that improves things, but if it's still sketchy after that you need to see a doctor.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:03 PM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Tegaderm (or a generic hydrocolloid film dressing) is quite good at speeding up healing and limiting scarring. If your burn is oozing a lot of liquid, get the foam kind that has a bit of thickness to absorb it. If it's just a bit of liquid then the clear think plastic kind is fine. You can order some from Amazon, and small sizes (like 2x2 inches) are often available in drugstores like CVS.

It's possible that you may want to clean out your burn before you put on the Tegaderm; perhaps someone else can advise you on that.
posted by danceswithlight at 9:07 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bag Balm for burns. I even healed a burn on my leg from a motorcycle exhaust pipe with it, without it scarring, however, it did take weeks to heal.
posted by Lynsey at 9:49 PM on January 15, 2017

hat said it's not really healing great either. As in, a gentle bump makes it bleed and I'm really not familiar with a scab looking like this (it's indented and kind of an ashy, beige, scaley patch).

Is there any reason why you cannot go to a walk-in clinic or ER? The "charred" comments are concerning, as well as the fact that it oozes when bumped. Scarring is the least of your worries. I would be worried about cellulitis, since the dermis has likely been compromised.
posted by My Dad at 10:28 PM on January 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Polysporin until the surface isn't oozy/enflamed anymore. But after a week or so here's my suggestions:

I swear by silicone patches like the ones made by Epiderm. Silicone patches are often given to surgical patients ,and I can personally say the results of wearing a patch for a few weeks is amazing. I have had a bunch of tattoo removal and have been burnt in the past by the laser, yet...nothing, no scarring, no redness.After a couple weeks of wear it just looks like normal skin. I am also really clumsy around curling irons so I keep a few small tabs around to stick on nasty burns. I never had any success with vitamin E oil/bio oil type products, personally.

Another good option to think about is asking your doctor for a topical steroid if it does end up scarring despite treatment. A steroid cream will thin out the thickened scar tissue.
posted by InkDrinker at 11:22 PM on January 15, 2017

You might consider getting an aloe plant for next time. You simply cut off a leaf/frond/whatever, slit it and hold it on the burn immediately. It will mitigate the pain in a few minutes, and help prevent scarring by reducing the damaging heat.
posted by Cranberry at 11:49 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm also concerned by the bleeding. To me this seems worse than the average burn. After a week, I agree that you should see a doctor.

As it's most likely fine despite this somewhat alarming symptom, I recommend focusing your time with the doctor on getting personalized advice on how to limit scarring for this particular injury.
posted by samthemander at 12:35 AM on January 16, 2017

I would second that you need this looking at by somebody (likely a doctor or ENP) who knows how to assess burns (how big is it, what thickness, is it infected). They can tailor the dressings advice (it will vary depending on how deep the burn is and whether it's infected).

If it's a 3rd degree burn (which it could be, if it is charred) you are going to have a bit of scarring. There's evidence that hydrocolloid dressings promote healing and reduce scarring in second-degree burns (you leave them on for up to 5 days depending on how wet the wound is, to avoid disturbing the skin). But you really need advice specific to your burn.
posted by tinkletown at 1:35 AM on January 16, 2017

As someone who frequently injures themselves due to clumsiness, hydrocolloids are the way to go here.
posted by Acheman at 4:13 AM on January 16, 2017

Your first concern is not scarring but infection. That sounds serious. You should get it looked at.
posted by spitbull at 4:27 AM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

But get it looked at too.
posted by InkaLomax at 4:42 AM on January 16, 2017

Seconding aloe vera!!

Anecdote: I burnt my leg badly on an exposed industrial pipe one time. Everyone said it'd leave a nasty scar. A friend gave me an aloe vera plant and told me to split a fresh leaf open every day and (this is the important part) - slap the entire leaf on the burn, with the fleshy inside part directly against the skin, and bandage it down.

I did that every day for probably...two or three weeks (?). Voila: not even the faintest scar. It was amazing.
posted by Salamander at 5:59 AM on January 16, 2017

I posted a similar question a few years ago - crazy burn and followed the advice therein and it worked! No scar, though it took a long time for the mark to fade. What I did is spray it with Solarcaine spray and then keep it bandaged with Neosporin with pain reliever. The most important part is to get soft sterile pads and keep it clean! And I slathered aloe on it every now and then.
posted by silverstatue at 7:22 AM on January 16, 2017

What you described sounds similar to a really bad burn I had once (including the charred skin and bleeding.) It sounds likely to scar, but one thing I know that made my (significant) scar worse was constantly letting the scab get wet and soften when showering, etc., and picking at it. So keep it covered anytime it's likely to be exposed to a lot of water, and just generally don't pick at it at all. And definitely use aloe.
posted by catatethebird at 7:31 AM on January 16, 2017

My occupational therapist has me applying a silicon pad to my hand to reduce the scarring from surgery. I have no idea if that would be effective on a burn scar as well, but a scar is a scar, right?
posted by axiom at 9:05 PM on January 16, 2017

Since I'm currently volunteering at a humanitarian aid camp, I had some medical friends take a look at it who confirmed it was full thickness but thought it should be fine because it's pretty small! I tried hydrocolloids and aloe, which I think helped, but alas, there is a pretty dark scar anyways. Thanks for your answers!
posted by Wanderwhale at 12:45 PM on February 7, 2017

It's way too early to know how badly it will scar! The scar will shrink down and settle over the next twelve months, and will eventually fade to white. Keep it out of the sun, keep it well-moisturised, and give it time. None of my old scars are visible now unless you know where to look for them.
posted by tinkletown at 4:16 PM on February 11, 2017

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