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Most burns are the result of the skin’s exposure to heat. Occasionally, some burns can be the result of exposure to chemicals or electricity.

The most common type of burn is a sunburn and while painful, usually does not require medical attention. Next in line, are thermal burns like those from scalding liquid or heat from hot pans as are common in the kitchen. Again, these are painful but usually do not require medical attention.

Burns are categorized by severity- the amount and depth of tissue affected.


First degree:

First degree burns are usually minor- like a sunburn, are characterized by red skin, but do not include blisters. While they can be a bit painful, unless they cover an extensive amount of the body, they do not warrant medical treatment.



Second degree:

Second degree burns are characterized by blisters and the skin may appear bright red, swollen or even shiny and wet looking. The burn is VERY painful and depending on the amount of skin or area affected (depth of the burn) – scarring may occur.

Second degree burns likely require medical treatment, especially if the burned area is large or on the chest, face or throat area.

You should NEVER break the blisters of a second-degree burn and always watch for potential infection.



Third degree:

Often referred to as a “full-thickness burn”, this type may not be as painful simply because the burn extends so deep as to destroy nerve endings. The skin may appear charred, brown/black – although outer areas may be reddened or blistered with a lesser second degree burn (and actually be quite painful.)

Third degree burns ALWAYS require medical attention regardless of where they are located or how much of the body is affected due to the need for treatment, the risk for infection and the many complications affecting underlying tissue, bones and/or joints.


Fourth/Fifth/Sixth degree:

Rarely categorized, these types of burns affect ALL layers of tissue including ligaments, tendons, and finally bones. These types of burns are typically LIFE THREATENING and generally are associated with loss of the affected body part.

Treatment For First Degree Burns/Sunburns

  • Frequent cool baths or showers to relieve pain

  • Moisturizer that contains aloe or soy to soothe sunburn skin

  • Ibuprofen to reduce swelling, redness and discomfort

  • Drink plenty of water

  • If skin blisters, do not break blisters

  • Wear light but tightly-woven, fabric when outdoors. Protect skin against further exposure.

Seek Medical Attention For A Burn

  • If the burn affects the face, eyes, ears, hands, feet, or genitals

  • Anytime the burn is 2nd degree or greater

  • Anytime the size of the burn covers an area greater than the size of your hand

  • If the burn becomes infected

  • If you develop a fever

  • If there is fluid leaking from the burn wound

  • If the burn isn’t healing within two weeks

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