What is a burn?
Burn is the name given to the tissue damage caused by exposure to heat, sun, radiation, chemical, or electrical contact. Burns can range in severity from minor to emergencies, depending on the length of exposure, location on the body, and the depth and extent of the damaged tissue. Treatment for burns varies depending on the cause of the burn and its severity. Burn severity is rated on a scale of degrees, with 1st-degree burns being less severe and 4th-degree burns being the most severe.
How severe is my burn?
You can determine the severity of a burn based on the symptoms. It can often take a day or more for all the symptoms of a burn to fully develop.
- 1st-Degree Burns: These are minor burns on the outer-most layer of skin (the epidermis). First-degree burns will be red and mild to moderately painful but don’t usually form blisters.
- 2nd-Degree Burns: Second-degree burns affect both the epidermis and the lower layers of skin (the dermis). These burns usually cause redness, swelling, blistering, and moderate to severe pain. Second-degree burns can result in scars.
- 3rd-Degree Burns: Third-degree burns penetrate through the epidermis and dermis to the fat, or subcutaneous, layer of skin. The burn site itself may not be painful because the burn has destroyed the nerves (though the areas around it will be painful). The area may appear black, brown, red, or white and leathery. Third-degree burns also destroy sweat glands and hair follicles in the skin.
- 4th-Degree Burns: Fourth-degree burns penetrate through all the layers of skin to muscle and/or bone.
When should I seek medical assistance for a burn?
First and some second-degree burns will heal fine with home first-aid treatment. See your doctor if the burn or blister doesn’t heal on its own in two weeks or the burn shows signs of infection (oozing, increase in pain, additional redness and swelling). Depending on the extent of the second-degree burn, you may need to seek medical treatment.
Third and fourth-degree burns can be life-threatening and require immediate emergency medical care. Emergency care should also be sought out if:
- The burned area is on a major joint area, covers a large area of the body, or covers hands, feet, the face, groin, or butt.
- The burn appears leathery or has charred patches (brown, black, or white areas).
- The cause of the burn was electrical or chemical.
- The person is having difficulty breathing, or there are burns in the airway
Burns in Children
Burns are one of the most common causes of accidental injury at home, and the vast majority of scalding burns in children are preventable. Most children under age 4 who are hospitalized for burns are from scalds (a burn from hot liquid) or contact burns (touching something hot). Children are also more susceptible to injury from heat or cold. They lose heat faster and pay less attention to exposure to heat or cold when they are having fun. First aid for burns on children is the same for those on adults. As with most accidental injuries, prevention is the best medicine. You can read more about preventing and treating burns in kids in our blog.
They have such a great staff, couldn’t have not asked for a better doctor to help me find the diagnostic of my daughter condition! Definitely recommend going back.– Ashlee