I've been very lucky overall in my life when it comes to injuries. I have come through my years relatively unscathed. First grade seems to have been the worst year for me when it comes to injuries: I got a concussion when running under a friend on the swing and getting kicked in the back of the head, I got stabbed in the ear by a friend, and flew over the head of my pony and landed on my left arm with another kid landing on my back. The fall destroyed on the cushion in my shoulder joint, though I wouldn't know that for about 20 years (pre-MRI). I have scars on my shins from learning to ride horses in junior high. I pulled a thigh muscle in track during high school and ran on it for 6 weeks. I suppose that the scars of childbirth could be counted as injuries as well. My most recent injury prior to this burn was right before Christmas 2013, when I slipped and hit my head on the floor causing my glasses to cut the corner of my eye. So that is two Christmases in a row that have have been hurt. If it happens again next year, it'll be the beginnings of a Christmas tradition. This is not a tradition I want to start.
I do not recommend burning yourself, especially with anything sticky and clinging. This makes the burn so much worse as the substance doesn't just pass over the skin briefly. I am not one to run to the doctor or emergency room easily, I'd rather just take care of it at home. If I had gone by the look of my skin immediately after the incident, I would not have gone to the ER. It took hours for the blisters to start to truly form. However, the pain was beyond anything I had ever felt in my life. I can say without exaggeration that I wanted to cut my hand off to end the pain for a good 30 minutes. I put my hand under cool water just as one should, until that too began to hurt terribly. So I put in under water on and off periodically. Do not put ice on a burn as they told us to do when we were kids. It can exacerbate any potential nerve damage. My daughter was very helpful and concerned during all of this, she witnessed the whole thing. She even fetched my husband when I realized that I'd need to go to hospital.
I am including pictures to show the progress of my injury. If you are squeamish, I suggest not looking any further.
I knew that despite the appearance, the fact that the gravy had clung meant that it was likely that it was a second degree burn. I am so glad that I knew enough to take off my wedding ring at the very beginning, it would have had to been cut off my finger if I had waited to remove it. Taking off the ring was something that required some teeth gritting. Despite the lack of redness and blisters in the pictures, the second one shows that my digits had already begun to swell a bit.
My reward for my patience at the ER was some pain medication, some excellent burn cream, and some free gauze. Though I really needed about 10 boxes of gauze instead of the two they gave me. On the plus side, I got a wonderful lobster claw hand for the holidays.The fingers had to be individually wrapped within the larger bandage to prevent them from sticking together. If you've ever hurt your fingers, you'll be familiar with this practice. This detail became very important as my body tried to heal itself. It was pretty funny to watch me try to write at work the first couple of days. Luckily, much of what I do involves typing. Though I think, even that was a bit funny and awkward looking. It certainly was uncomfortable, and even painful, towards the end of the day.
Over the next couple of days, I was amazed and kind of grossed out over the blisters that developed. I think the best description of my feelings would be "fascinated horror". The one on my ring finger became particularly large, the size of a whole other finger. I continually marveled at what my body was doing to try to heal itself and terrified that the skin at the edges of the blister would simply rip apart from the amount of stretching that it was doing. It certainly felt like it was on the edge of tearing apart. I also worried about the skin over the blister spontaneously bursting because the skin couldn't stretch anymore. It took two days for the blisters to reach their largest size. I couldn't help but stare at them when changing my bandages.
At times, it was tempting to pop the blisters. This was something I knew I shouldn't do, as they are there to protect the new skin, so I was very protective of my blisters and tried to keep them intact as long as I could I was defeated by a need to consumer summer sausage. Cutting myself a few slices, the pressure of pushing on the knife caused the largest blister to pop. It was 6 days after the burn was received. In some ways this was much grosser than the blister itself. I left the skin so that it could continue to protect the new skin underneath. Plus, any manipulation of that skin caused a bit of pain. The blister on my middle finger had started to reduce on its own at this point, which was good, my fingers had been forcibly separated into a Vulcan greeting for a week (though no one could see it through the bandage) and the muscles were fatigued. It was a relief to not have to hold my fingers at such an awkward angle anymore and there were a surprising feeling of freedom, now that I could wrap my fingers individually and have a range of motion that more closely resembled normal.
I think the next stage of my recovery was my favorite. As the skin from the blisters dried out about 8 days after the original injury, my hand started to look like something out of a zombie movie. Though the hard, dry skin was a bit uncomfortable and would sometimes poke the tender new skin underneath it. I had to make sure I kept my fingers moving to help the new skin stay elastic. I wanted to use moisturizer on my dry skin but couldn't. So instead, I kept applying the burn cream like a good patient.
It was very difficult not to peel the skin off once the scabs started flaking off. It's like that compulsion to remove torn labels, almost irresistible. I admit that the angry redness and the tenderness of the newly exposed flesh was helpful in resisting this temptation, but only at first. Also, knowing that doing so would likely increase any scaring. I'm not overly vain, but I've always thought I had pretty good skin, and I didn't want to screw that up.
My slavish obedience to the doctor's directions and my resistance to the temptation to pop the blisters or peel the scabs prematurely has apparently paid off. The burn scar is barely noticeable on my skin. There is some tightness to the burn area and it seems to dry out more quickly than the skin around it. My ring finger seems slightly bigger than previously, but I was able to put my wedding ring back on. (Though it's uncomfortable to try to take it off.) The area is still slightly red and is occasionally tender to the touch. Extreme cold seems to bother it more than heat.
Getting such a burn is not an experience I want to repeat, but I think I healed up rather well. I hope that you never get such an injury, or any injury for that matter.
I hope you have a wonderful 2015!