Burns are some of the most common household injuries and happen when the skin is exposed to heat, ultra-violet light, radiation, hot liquid, steam, fire, flammable liquids or gases, chemicals, or electricity.  Knowing burn symptoms and treatment can help prevent serious complications.  Minor burns typically heal on their own without treatment, while more severe burns require treatment to prevent infection, shock, or death.

Burns are described according to depth, with superficial burns involving only the first layer of skin, partial-thickness burns involving both the first and second layers of skin, full-thickness burns destroying the entire first and second layers, and subdermal burns involving the subdermal tissues

The Burn is then classified by degrees and each having different symptoms and treatment.

Burn symptoms according to degrees

  • First-degree burns: cause redness and pain and usually resolve with at home first-aid measures within several days.

  • Second-degree burns: cause redness, pain and swelling – often looks wet or moist. Blisters may develop and pain can be severe.

  • Third-degree burns: skin may appear stiff, waxy white, leathery or tan.  Can destroy nerves, causing numbness.


Burn treatment

Your Urgent Care Doctor will evaluate the amount of skin or body surface area that the burn covers and assess the risk for complications, such as infection, dehydration, and disfigurement.

Treatments are also based on the severity of the burn. First and some second-degree burns (no larger than three inches of skin involved) can be treated by running cool water over the area for 10 to 15 minutes. If running water over the area is not an option, use a cool compress on the burn. Do not apply ice to a burn as it can further damage the skin.  See your Urgent Care Doctor if any problems persist.

A third-degree burn may go beyond the first three layers of skin and involve other tissues and bone. If you have a third-degree burn, do not attempt to treat it yourself. Call 911 immediately. Do not remove any of your clothing and cover the burned area with a cool, moist cloth and raise the burned area above the heart.