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Odstock Burns Support

Frequently Asked Questions


BUGS has taken care that the information presented in FAQ is accurate at the time of posting on to our website. Below is simple advice for common problems and is relevant to patients and ex-patients and their families or carers at *Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust's Burns Unit. BUGS cannot accept responsibility for any inappropriate use of the information. If you experience problems which are not covered by the answers on the website please contact your Burns Unit. *The Burns Unit, Salisbury District Hospital: 01722 345507 (Direct Line to the Unit)

Your newly healed skin will be quite delicate for several months and will have a tendency to develop little blisters which may seem to appear for no specific reason. At other times, they may occur as a result of rubbing from clothes or pressure garments or after you have bumped yourself.

It is important not to pop the blisters if they appear normal. i.e. not infected. Keep the area clean. You can expect the blisters to pop or get smaller by themselves. The tendency for blisters to form gradually disappears over time.

Do not wear pressure garments until your blistered area has healed.

Do continue to use your cream but do not apply cream to any open areas. Massage delicate skin with care.

If you are worried about your skin, contact your Burns Unit for advice.

Scar or donor areas may appear dark pink, deep red or purple. Discolouration of burn or scald areas is normal because of changes in the blood circulation and the make up of the newly healed skin.

The change in colour may be more noticeable at different times of the year, when your body temperature changes or when you are doing activities which increase your heart rate.

The skin's natural colour might return to areas that have superficial or partial thickness burns, after several months. Deeper burns may have some permanent discolouration. Skin which has had a deeper burn will always be a different colour compared to the surrounding skin.

Following a burn injury the oil and sweat glands become damaged, resulting in the scar area becoming dry. We advise you to massage your scar two or three times a day with a non-perfumed moisturising cream, for example sunflower oil, E45 or Vitamin E cream. Any cream used should be tested on a small area of the scar first before applying it to the whole area in case of irritation or a reaction to the cream.

Before creaming, your skin should be washed with a non-perfumed soap as a build up of cream may cause pimples to develop.

It is essential for you to protect your skin from the sun.

We advise that you do not sunbathe at all and that you always use a high protection sunscreen when out in the sun. Follow these directions carefully:

  • Avoid direct sunlight on the affected areas for at least two years after healing has occurred.
  • Clothing should be worn over the pressure garments. The most comfortable clothing will be made from cotton, silk or linen. The pressure garments will not protect the skin from the sun’s rays. There are some companies who specialise in sun protective clothing. BUGS can give you information about these companies.
  • Always use 'sunblock’ for sensitive skin, on areas that you are unable to protect with clothing, even on a cloudy day. ‘Sunblocks’ need to be re-applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions and particularly after swimming. (You may find that ‘sunblock’ has a different name after 2007).
  • Schedule activities to take place in the cool of the day if possible. Avoid the hottest time of day between 11.00am and 3.00pm for outdoor activities.
  • Sunburn can still occur while sitting under sun canopies and on cloudy days.
  • If you swim in the sea we recommend that you apply ‘sun-block’, wear a shirt and only stay in the water for half an hour at a time. Try to rinse your skin thoroughly and apply more ‘sun block’, afterwards.

It is important for everyone that they wear a sun cream which provides good protection for both UVA and UVB exposure. This is even more important for children and anyone who has been burned. Recent scientific experiments by *RAFT suggest that it is important to look at UVA as well as UVB factors.

  • UVA is now believed to play a greater role in skin cancer
  • UVB causes burning

It is always important to use sun screening creams which protect against both types of Ultraviolet rays.

  • A star rating indicates UVA protection. The highest star-rated cream available is 5-star.
  • The manufacturer's directions will give information about a factor rating e.g. 20, 30 which protects against UVB.

*Marc's Line advise that the best advice is to COVER UP, STAY in the SHADE and APPLY sun screen creams regularly as directed by the manufacturer's directions. The usual guidelines for sun exposure, such as covering up and seeking shade, still apply.

*RAFT, Leopold Muller Building, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, Middlesex. HA6 2RN
*MARC’S Line Resource Centre, Dermatology Treatment Centre, Level 3 Salisbury District Hospital, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 8BJ

This is a common problem affecting burn, scald and donor areas. It is a result of nerve endings growing back, which are often damaged through the injury or surgery. Unfortunately, there is no complete cure for this distressing problem. It is usually worse in the summer and at night when the body will be warmer. It can cause loss of sleep and appetite. As time passes itching should decrease.

To minimise the problem: -

  • Good skin care is essential i.e. bathing and proper use of moisturising creams. Keeping the cream in the fridge and using it cold can increase the relief obtained when moisturising.
  • Bathing the area with cool water or placing a flannel soaked in cold water may bring some relief or, if the skin condition permits, frequent cool baths.
  • Careful washing of the pressure garments is important. Avoid strong washing powder. Ensure that soap powder is thoroughly rinsed out of the garments.
  • It is best to wear cotton clothes and sleep in cotton sheets. Wool and nylon will tend to increase skin temperature and therefore increase itching.
  • Do not scratch as this might cause the skin to break down.
  • Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication which might help.
  • Once the skin is well healed you may want to try other products, such as different moisturisers, to try to help minimise the itching.
  • Laser treatment may be beneficial. This will need to be discussed with your consultant.
  • Some people find fans or portable air-conditioning units are helpful when the weather is hot.

These are close fitting garments made of Lycra. They are either ‘off the shelf’ garments, for use when the skin is delicate, or made to measure garments. You will be encouraged to wear the garment for many hours both day and night.

The appearance of your scars will be improved by the pressure put on them from these garments.

The staff in the clinic will explain about the garments and their use. Your local Burns Unit will advise you about when the garments should be worn, particularly if there are small unhealed areas of skin. Pressure garments should not be worn if there are significant areas of unhealed skin or blisters.

(See section - ‘What can I do about my itching’)

This is dependent on how your scar tissue matures. Normally it takes from 12 to 18 months for this to happen and we recommend that the garment is worn for 24 hours per day and removed only for washing/bathing.

Swimming is possible once the burn has healed. It is important that you shower thoroughly at the end of the swimming session and reapply your cream afterwards. If you are swimming in an outdoor pool it is important to wear a waterproof sun block over the burned areas.

Note: A high chlorine content in the water may cause itching or a rash.

Registered Charity Number: 1052284