First-degree burns cause reddening of the skin and local pain. A sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn. Second-degree burns cause blisters, more pronounced swelling, are very painful and the skin may peel. Third-degree burns cause white or black charred skin, and often the loss of pain sensitivity because of nerve damage in the deeper tissues.
Treatment – First and Second-Degree Burns
Do not put butter, oil, ice or ice water on burns – this can cause more damage to the skin. Soak the burn in cool water and clean gently with soap. Apply a layer of antibiotic ointment or burn cream, and cover with a sterile gauze dressing. When changing dressings, clean off all cream with soap and water and look for signs of infections. Do not rupture blisters – this will increase the chance of infection.
Treatment – Third Degree Burns
Third-degree burns affect all 3 layers of the skin; the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis.
Consider the following:
- Don’t remove any clothing that is stuck to the burn,
- Don’t soak the burn in water or apply any ointment,
- Cover the burn with a sterile bandage or clean doth until professional medical assistance,
- Often followed by shock,
- Administer a pain reliever immediately,
- Consume more water than usual.
All burns are considered serious when they are:
- Third degree,
- To the hands, face, feet, or genitals,
- Circumscribe, or go completely around, an extremity such as an arm or leg,
- More than 10% of the body. To determine the percent of the body, the palm of your hand is about 1% of your total body surface.
- All serious burns require immediate medical attention.
IMPORTANT – The procedures described on this website are not a substitute for medical, first aid or CPR training. Always seek treatment from a trained medical professional whenever possible.