Burns: Understand the Different Degrees and Learn What to Do
Burns are some of the most prevalent types of injuries. You can experience a burn when your skin comes into contact with the following:
- Flammable liquids or gases
- Hot liquid
- Ultraviolet (UV) sunlight
You can recover from a minor burn without medical intervention. However, if your burn is severe or widespread, you should seek medical help to avoid complications. Recognizing the severity of the burn will help you avoid potentially life-threatening infections.
What kind of burn do I have?
We categorize burns into first, second, or third degrees, depending on the severity of the injury.
- First-degree burn: A burn that turns red, doesn’t blister, and is only sustained in the outermost skin layer.
- Second-degree burn: A burn sustained in the second skin layer that blisters, forms a crust, and oozes fluid.
- Third-degree burn: A burn that penetrates skin layers down to the muscle, tendon, or bone.
What you need to know about burn symptoms.
Knowing how to address different types of burns will significantly reduce your risk of infection or other complications.
These are the mildest type of burn and cause superficial damage to the top layer of skin. They are characterized by redness and swelling. Generally, they can be treated with simple home remedies.
To treat a first-degree burn, start by cooling the affected area under cool running water for 10-15 minutes. You can also place a cool compress on the injured area. Both actions will reduce the heat of the burn and minimize swelling. Do not use ice directly on the burn; this can damage tissue. Please visit the nearest urgent care provider if you experience additional problems or discomfort.
A second-degree burn can be significantly more serious than a first-degree burn. Take all necessary precautions to make sure the area is cared for properly.
Rinse the burned area under cool – not cold – running water for approximately 20 minutes. Do not apply ice to the burn.
Once the burn has been cooled, cover the area with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage to protect the area from further injury or infection. Seek medical assistance from the nearest urgent care provider to make sure the burn heals properly.
These are a very serious type of burn injury; third-degree burns won’t heal on their own and require immediate medical attention. Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury and the area affected, but there are some basic steps that should be taken.
Protect the burn from additional injury by covering the area with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean moist cloth. Elevating the burned area above the heart can minimize pain and swelling.