The month of May is the official ‘burn awareness’ month in South Africa, and as a manufacturer of wound treatment products, Melcura™ is acutely aware of the importance of awareness and education when it comes to the prevention and correct treatment of burn injuries.
As a South African company, they know that many burn injuries occur in disadvantaged or rural areas and the company focuses on year-round burn awareness and treatment education.
Danielle de Villiers, Project Manager of Melcura, says: “One of my first experiences was research and development of an innovative synthetic resorbable skin substitute. I was, in essence, developing artificial skin that had the properties of natural human skin.
“Our reality in SA is that many people are either living without electricity, or only have sporadic access to electricity. This means that gas or open fires are used by millions daily. These same people do not have easy access to medical care, so the most important first step is to educate people on prevention, and also treatment in the event of burn wounds,” said de Villiers.
In South Africa during winter, clinics see the largest volume of patients due to burn injuries. There are many reasons for this such as:
• Diabetic persons with loss of feeling in feet who burn with hot water bottles and heaters or hot bath water which often results in burn wounds on the feet.
• Small children pulling kettle chords or hot cups from the countertop.
• Informal settlement fires due to lack of electricity.
• Other causes of burns are from chemicals in factories as well as hot oil or steam from restaurants.
What you must NEVER do:
There are so many myths about how to treat burns, but the truth is that many of these can cause further damage.
Never apply ice, butter, toothpaste, ice water or egg white. These can introduce even more bacteria, or even increase the damage already done.
What you SHOULD do:
• Rinse the wound with running cool tap water (or cool clean water from a container) for at least 20 minutes. This will cool down the wound and assist with the pain.
• Thereafter lightly cover the wound with either an emergency-type dressing or a Petroleum Jelly gauze dressing.
• The important rule is to keep it clean and minimize pain, remember that any burn patient needs medical help, and it is advised to seek professional medical assistance as soon as possible.
Additional treatment tips:
• Medical-grade Honey is the best treatment for most wounds. Melcura™’s Honey range can be used on any wound with complete safety. Honey is well known for its healing properties, especially on burn wounds. Always keep a tube of Melcura™ HoneyGel (gel) or HoneyPlus (ointment) in your first aid kit.
• A Blister – gently clean the blister without breaking the skin and cover with a thin layer of Melcura™ HoneyGel – place a gentle dressing over it as a cover. Dress it every second day. • A red angry and warm wound – this might indicate that the wound is inflamed, or infected –
the quick and easy solution is to clean the wound with a wound cleanser such as saline and place a thin layer of Melcura™ HoneyPlus on the wound and cover it with gauze and a light bandage.
• A bite wound – immediately clean the wound with saline and gauze and then cover the wound with Melcura™ HoneyPlus and gauze. Ensure that the patient gets to a doctor or clinic as soon as possible for a Tetanus treatment.
In summary, there are many types of wounds, and there are lots of misconceptions out there. Always ensure that you are prepared to treat an emergency that might happen in and around your house.
Burn awareness in SA
As mentioned, there is a critical need for increased education around burn prevention and treatment in SA. Those who work with patients will tell you that many burn wounds could either have been prevented or cured much sooner with proper treatment. It is up to us to educate and assist wherever we can.