Burn injury is the most common form of physical harm suffered during the festival. And in almost all cases, the injury is due to firecrackers.
“Although the depth of burns depends on the degree of heat, the skin’s thickness and the time for which the skin remains exposed to the heat, timely intervention and correct first aid can reduce the severity of a burn appreciably,” said Dr Anup Dhir, senior consultant, cosmetic surgery, Apollo Hospital.
Water is the best and most effective first-aid for burn injuries.
Burn injuries are usually of three types - first where the skin turns pink, with slight swelling and severe pain in the affected area; second where the affected area turns red, develops swelling and later blisters that are painful and third where the skin is charred and because of damage to the nerves the person may not feel much pain in the affected area. In the first and the second type, put the affected area under running cold water for 15 minutes immediately to lessen the burning sensation. Use an antibiotic ointment or soothing creams such as aloe-vera. However, in the third type, one must rush the person to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.
“Do not use any ointment or apply any home remedies on the affected area in severe burns cases as it hinders cleaning of the wound. Just cover it with a damp clean cotton cloth until a doctor is reached,”said Dr Mahesh Mangal, senior consultant, plastic and cosmetic surgery, New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
You need a doctor immediately if: if the wound is charred and there are multiple blisters, or if any critical areas near the eyes, face, joints etc are affected. If the wound is large in size -- more than 3 inches in diameter -- then it is advisable to see a doctor and not treat the wound at home.
The best way to avoid injury to the eye is by wearing wide-rimmed sunglasses.
“In spite of all precautions every year, we get a lot of eye injury cases before and after Diwali,”says Dr Mahipal S Sachdev, director, Centre for Sight chain of eye hospitals.
One must know the eye has been affected if vision feels like diminishing, there is redness in the eyeball, eyes are watering and if one is not able to open the eye.“Go to an eye specialist even for seemingly minor injuries as it could get worse and even result in loss of vision at times,” said Dr Sachdev. Don’t rub the injured eye or wash it clean as it may cause further damage to the wound.
Taking drugs without the advice of a doctor is a strict no as certain medicines can increase bleeding and cause the blood to become thinner that can lead to complications later. Also avoid putting eye drops without doctor’s advice.
You need a doctor immediately if: The vision is blurred, there is burning sensation, redness or bleeding in the eye or if one is unable to open eyes.
If there is bleeding and one can feel shrapnel lodged inside the skin, then there is no point in fiddling with the wound as it will lead to further loss of blood. The person must be immediately rushed to the nearest emergency as it may require minor surgery to remove the lodged piece(s) of shrapnel.
“The kind of injuries that are inflicted because of the bursting of a firecracker is almost similar to the puncture wounds a person suffers from when a bomb explodes. In most cases, the person sustains multiple wounds, with more than one shrapnel lodged inside the body,” said a senior doctor in the plastic surgery department at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. “One must not try to remove the shrapnel at home using tweezers etc as it could lead to infection. The pieces need to be removed in a surgical set-up,” the doctor added.
You need a doctor immediately if: There is a puncture wound on skin due to a cracker burst and it is bleeding.
Take a quiz to know if you have suffered injuries in a firecracker accident during Diwali
Crackers that comprise chemicals such as sulphur, aluminum, carbon etc create harmful particles on bursting that can stay in the atmosphere for a longer period of time, leading to longer exposure to the chemicals. Some of the particles are so minute that they can get lodged straight into pores inside the lungs and cause respiratory and naso-bronchial reaction.
For asthma patients, who already have hyperactive airways, these pollutants are further damaging and can trigger asthma attacks, especially in elderly and children. Prevention is the only way to avoid asthma attacks as Diwali is celebrated at a time when there is already change in the season, exposing people to multiple infection and allergens.
“Start maintenance dose a few days before the festival and continue it for a few more days after Diwali. However, the dose should be taken only after consultation with your doctor. Wear a mask if possible and try to identify what irritates and stay away from it,”said Dr Chandan Kedawat, senior consultant, internal medicine, PSRI Hospital.
You need a doctor immediately if: A person experiences wheezing-breathlessness-despite using an inhaler.