Treatment for Burns

Treatment for burns can often be some sort of burn medication. It is important for burn patients and their families to keep track independently of the medications prescribed for the patient both during and after the hospital stay. Stay alert for the possibility of allergic reactions and drug interactions with other medications the burn patient may be taking.

The number and type of medications prescribed to a burn injury patient can be overwhelming. Different types of medications are important for different types of burn injuries, because all require different types of treatments.

Medications Used to Treat Thermal (Heat) Burns

Thermal burns (burns from flame or fire) are the most common type of burn injury.

Topical antibiotics like Neosporin and Silvadene are used to fight infections and bacteria growth. Neosporin is available over the counter and is used for minor infections. Silvadene is used for severe burns and requires a prescription and a sterile application environment.

Analgesics are prescribed for pain control. A thermal burn patient may start out on morphine sulphate, Vicodin or Demerol. All of those pain control drugs require a prescription and are controlled substances.

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Agents (NSAIDs) are often used instead of steroids to help treat mild to moderate pain. NSAIDs are usually available over the counter and include ibuprofen (sold under brand names such as Advil and Motrin) and naproxen sodium (sold under brand names like Ansaid and Anaprox).

Other medications or anesthetics may be used in connection with surgical procedures performed on patients with thermal burns.

Medications Used to Treat Chemical Burns

Medications are used less frequently in the immediate treatment of chemical burns. That said, the patient will receive standard intravenous (IV) fluids and narcotic or analgesics for pain control after decontamination.

Doctors will prescribe analgesics such as morphine or acetaminophen for pain control or sedation. For chemical burn patients experiencing mild to moderate pain, NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium are preferable.

Antibiotics like Silvadene are used to treat second- and third-degree chemical burns. Chemical burns commonly occur to the eyes, and erythromycin ointment is used instead of Silvadene to fight infections in the ocular area.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burn patients are even more susceptible to dehydration — which carries the associated risk of renal failure — than patients with other types of burns. Electrical burn patients will receive fluid replacement therapy and diuretics to maintain urinary output.

Mafenide (sold under the brand name Sulfamylon) is a topical antifungal and antibacterial medication that requires a doctor's prescription.

As with other types of burns, Silvadene or Neosporin may be used to fight infections in electrical burn patients.