What is a burn?

A burn occurs when body tissue is damaged by heat, flame, steam, sunlight, radiation, friction, chemicals or electricity. Immediate care of a burn can be lifesaving. A burn can range from being a first-degree, second-degree, or a third-degree burn.

What are the different types of burns and treatment?

  • First-degree burns- This type of burn is normally red, dry and does not have blisters. It usually impacts only the first layer of skin.
    • Treatment- Apply a cool compress or run cool or lukewarm water over the burn. Do not apply ice. Taking over-the-counter medications may help relieve pain. Seek medical attention if the pain is severe, blisters or drainage develop, or if the burn involves the face, is over a major joint of the body, or is larger than 3-4 inches in size.
  • Second-degree burns- This type of burn extends beyond the outer layer of skin can be very painful, red, and cause blistering.
    • Treatment- See a doctor if you have a second-degree burn, as the burn is at risk of becoming infected.  Immerse the burn in cool or lukewarm water or apply a cool compress for 10-15 minutes. Elevate the burned arm or leg if possible. Do not pop or drain a blister.
  • Third-degree burns- This type of burn causes loss of skin layers. It may look white, blackened, or charred. Sometimes the skin is dry and leathery. Damage extends to the deepest layers of skin and possibly the tissue beneath.
    • Treatment- Seek immediate medical attention for this type of burn. Do not apply ointments or butter to the burn as it may cause infection. Cover the burn with a clean light cloth, but be very careful to prevent clothing or any foreign material from sticking to the burned area. Try to keep the person calm, warm and comfortable. Call 911 if the patient has any difficulties breathing or passes out.

Patient First treats many injuries at our urgent care centers including non-life threatening burns. You can visit any Patient First center from 8am to 8pm, any day of the week – no appointment is needed.