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

Burns are classified by degrees and each have different symptoms and treatment.

  • First-degree burns: red, non-blistered skin affecting only the outer layer of skin.

  • Second-degree burns: redness and thickening skin with blisters that may ooze.  This burn extends to the second layer of skin.

  • Third-degree burns: white, charred, or  leathery appearance.  May damage underlying bones, muscles, and tendons.

Burn symptoms and treatment

Signs and symptoms of burns are different depending on how severe the burn is (as described above).  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.

  • First degree burns produce redness, tenderness, pain and some swelling. If a large area of skin is involved, occasionally low grade will occur.  Sunburn is an example of a first degree burn.
  • Second degree burns  include all symptoms of a first degree burn along with blistering of the skin. Fluid
    filled blisters should not be broken.   See your Urgent Care Doctor as soon as possible.
  • Third degree burns involve all skin layers including nerve endings and occasionally underlying muscle.
    There may be no pain in the initial stages because the nerve endings have been damaged or destroyed.  Burns of this severity should be treated at the nearest emergency room



Burn treatment

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, but at the same time make sure your clothes are no longer in contact with the source of the burn. Cover the burned area with a cool, moist cloth and raise the burned area above the heart.