This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
In almost all cases of scalds and burns, there arises, soon after the infliction of the injury, a sense of coldness amounting to shivering. This commonly soon goes off, and the symptoms of inflammatory fever follow. But when the injury has been more violent, and exhaustion has followed, the shivering is severe and long continued, and seldom followed by reaction.
In all accidents from scalds and burns it seems to be of the utmost importance to apply a remedy on the instant, for by this means the violent anguish is allayed, and blistering, which, in scalds at least, is usually so considerable as to make the cure very tedious, is in a great degree prevented. When the injury is not very extensive, and is situated in a part where it can be conveniently done, plunging it into cold water, without a moment's delay, is strongly recommended. The transition from torture to ease is said to be very rapid. After the part has been immersed in cold water a sufficient length of time, that is, till the pain has subsided, it may be covered with linen rags wetted with water, and kept as cool as possible. After the inflammation has partially subsided, or as soon as the skin is broken, the injured part may be dressed with the following preparation by means of a feather, and afterwards covered with soft rags, or with cotton batting;-
Take Linseed Oil............................Four Ounces.
Lime Water..................................Four Ounces.
Shake them well together.
A different plan of treatment was advocated some years ago by Dr. Kentish, and was adopted by many of the profession; it consisted in bathing the injured part with Oil of Turpentine, warmed by standing in hot water; after this was done, the part was dressed with the resin ointment (yellow Basilicon), spread on lint or soft linen, to be changed only twice in twenty-four hours; and at the second dressing to be washed with proof spirit or Laudanum made warm. As soon as a secretion of pus (matter) takes place, the dressing should be changed to Calamine Cerate (Turner's Cerate) or Spermaceti Ointment.
To excite the system at the same time he recommends the administering of Ether, brandy, and other stimulants, which are to be given in proportion to the degree of injury, immediately after the accident, and to be repeated once or twice within the first twelve hours, and afterwards wine or ale, till suppuration takes place, when it will be no longer necessary to excite the system.
A case is mentioned where "a lady had both her arms severely scalded with boiling water from above the elbows down to the finger's ends. The oil of Turpentine was applied to one arm soon after the accident, and the other plunged into cold water, which was renewed as often as it became warm. That arm to which the oil of Turpentine was applied became perfectly easy in about half an hour, the other continued to give pain when taken out of the water even for an instant, for more than six hours; and, as far as I recollect, it required a much longer time for its cure than the other,"
Another practitioner recommends the following treatment;:--To cover the parts with pieces of bladder, softened by dipping them in warm water, keeping the outer surface constantly wetted with Alcohol. He mentions that the pain usually ceases in half an hour, but in deep and extensive burns the application must be continued for twelve or twenty-four hours, at the end of which time the inflammation will be found to be entirely removed. To heal the part, a cerate of wax and olive oil may be applied. The application of vinegar is also said to have been successful in some cases of both burns and scalds.
The treatment must vary according to the nature of the case, and the constitution of the patient. In simple cases where the injury is not serious, or the shock to the system very great, the application of cold water, followed by the oil and lime water, will probably be the best treatment; while in more serious cases, where the shock to the system is very great, the stimulant plan will afford greater chances of saving life.
When the patient is feverish he may take the Fever Mixture, No. 9; 9; and where there is much pain, and he cannot sleep in consequence, he may take about 30 drops of Laudanum, or five grains of Extract of Henbane, at bedtime, and ten grains of Bromide of Potash, or Bromide of Ammonia, two or three times a day.