Friday, August 19, 2016

Burns & Scalds

This information is taken from Household Medicine Surgery, Sick-Room Management, and Diet for Invalids. ©1854 pg.239 Medicine has changed over the years so please note these were the recommended practices at that time.


Burns and Scalds are so extremely alike in their nature, that even in a purely scientific work they may be classed together, and still more so here, where the chief aim is to impart practical instruction in the most compressed form. It is almost unnecessary to say that burning clothes must be put out immediately, by laying the person on the floor and rolling a thick tablecloth, great coat, or hearth-rug over him. What still continues to burn may be put out with water, warm if possible, and not dashed over a patient seriously burnt, as such a shock has proved fatal.

The patient should then be put to bed, and a little wine or spirit and water given; if there is much pain, laudanum, in the proportion of a drop to a child a year old, up to twenty-five or thirty drops to a grown person, may be administered. The clothes must then be removed with all possible gentleness, plenty of soft cotton, wool, or wadding, being in the meantime procured. This is then laid thickly on the burned part, and secured by a bandage. In the more severe cases of burn pus will often form abundantly for days after; it should be gently sponged away with warm water, and lint laid over the part. After deep burns or scalds it often becomes necessary, as healing sets in, to keep the part on the stretch, to prevent the contraction or puckering of the skin, which causes the frightful deformities seen after these accidents, and which, by the way, when they do ensue, are generally remediable wholly or in part.

When the patient seems getting drowsy and low, and the pulse small and flickering, steps must be taken to raise the sinking powers, or death may snatch him from our grasp. This is indeed the great source of danger. Wine, ammonia, and brandy must be given, with hot beef tea or gruel. Smelling salts should be held to the nostrils, hot bricks or bottles of hot water applied to the feet, and mustard poultices over the bowels or to the calves of the legs. As a last resource, an enema, containing three or four table-spoonfuls of turpentine in a pint of gruel, may be thrown up. Death generally ensues when more than half the surface of the trunk is burned or badly scalded. Cases of recovery are on record, but they are rare exceptions.

When a child is only slightly scalded, a little violet powder may be dusted over the part, or flour may be dredged over it. The blisters should not be pricked unless they swell and seem painful; a needle may then be used to puncture them. If the dead skin separates and leaves a raw surface, it is often useful to employ a liniment containing equal parts of linseed-oil and lime-water; cotton wool is laid over this, and retained by a bandage. If proud flesh forms during healing, a weak solution of sulphate of copper (blue vitriol) may be laid on once a-day with a camel-hair pencil.

Severe scalds require to be treated just the same as severe burns. During the process of repair which follows in both, the patient's strength must be assiduously supported. Light but nutritious food must be given, and generally a little bitter ale or wine is requisite. In delicate persons, quinine or steel may be given twice a-day.

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