Burns range in how bad they are from mild to very severe.
A superficial burn, also called a first-degree burn, is the least serious type of burn. Just the top layer of skin has been burned slightly. A superficial burn can cause pink or red skin, pain, and mild swelling. It does not cause blisters. Usually, superficial burns heal in 5 to 6 days. The damaged skin may peel within a few days. You will usually not have any scarring unless the burn gets infected.
A partial-thickness burn, also called a second-degree burn, is more serious than a superficial burn because a deeper layer of skin is burned. The skin is bright red and painful with blisters. The blisters usually turn white. There may be swelling. Partial-thickness burns usually heal within 2 weeks. Large partial-thickness burns may take 3 to 4 weeks to heal. There may be little or no scarring if the burn was not too big and it does not get infected.
Superficial burns and partial-thickness burns are usually caused by too much sun or short contact with heat or chemicals. Common sources of heat include hot liquid, steam, flames, hot objects such as cooking pans, or electricity. Common chemicals that can cause burns are tile cleaners, car battery acid, drain cleaners, gasoline, wet or dry cement, lime, and chlorine.
Common treatments for a superficial or partial-thickness heat burn include:
· Take off jewelry or tight clothing from the burned area before the skin begins to swell. Do not remove clothing if it is stuck to the burn.
· Run cool water over the burn or put cool wet clothes on the burn unless the burn is several inches in size. Do not cool the burn with ice or ice water because it can damage the skin even more.
· Loosely cover the burn with a clean, dry, nonfluffy bandage such as a gauze pad if it is more comfortable for you than leaving the burn exposed. Do not put adhesive or tape directly on the burn.
Do not put grease, petroleum jelly, butter, or home remedies on the burn. Do not put any ointment on the burn unless your primary care provider tells you to.
If the burn has blisters, talk to your primary care provider about how to treat the burn, or call 811.
If you have a chemical burn, call your local Poison Control Center (1-800-565-8161). They can tell you what to do for the specific chemical that burned you. It helps to have the chemical container with you when you call them to make sure you give the correct name for the chemical.
Full-thickness, or third-degree, burns are very serious injuries that involve all layers of skin and may damage muscle and other tissues under the skin. They are usually caused by clothing on fire; immersion in hot water; or contact with flames, hot objects, electricity, or corrosive chemicals. The burned skin may be white or it may be black and leathery. There may be little pain in the burned area, but the areas surrounding the burn may be quite painful. All full-thickness burns require emergency medical treatment. Full-thickness burns may require hospitalization for a few days or for many weeks. Full-thickness burns are so deep that only the edges heal. Scars may require skin grafting and several operations by a plastic surgeon, depending on how bad a burn is. Scars will eventually cover the rest of the burned area if skin grafting is not done.
Electrical burns also need immediate medical care. Even when an electrical burn seems minor, it may have caused significant damage under the skin. The damage may not be obvious for several hours or even until the next day, but delayed treatment can cause more damage.
Nova Scotia Fire Fighters Burn Treatment Society: http://www.nsffbts.ca/about%20us.html