Oh My Gosh Becky, Look at Her Burn!


Types, Treatments and what you should do

Your daughter, who prides herself on being the “ultimate multitasker”, is getting ready for a night out with her friends. Somewhere between Taylor Swift blaring from her iPod, text messages to her BFF coming to pick her up, and Google maps navigation to where they’re going for the night, she decides to also curl her hair. She picks up the curling iron and frantically whirls it around her gorgeous locks, trying to make the perfect beach waves as quickly as possible now that her BFF texted she will be there in less than 10 minutes. Next thing you hear is, “Ouch!” coming from the bathroom. She burned herself.

A burn like this is very common and in most cases can be treated at home, but for some burns immediate medical attention will be required. Knowing the different degrees of burns and which ones require medical attention vs. home treatment can help you determine what to do when you or a loved one is burned. If you or a loved one has a first or second-degree burn you can be treated at a Concentra Urgent Care location near you. To find your nearest Concentra Urgent Care Clinic Click Here.

How Low Can it Go?

Burns are classified as first, second, or third degree, depending on how deep and severe they penetrate the skin’s surface.

  • First-degree burns, also referred to as superficial burns, only affect the first outside layer or epidermis of skin. This type of burn turns skin red and is painful to touch with no visible blisters. A mild sunburn is an example of a first degree burn. This type of burn will gradually heal over time and may increase or decrease skin color in the area that was burned, but you should see a doctor if the burn affects a large area of skin (more than 3 inches) or if it’s on your face or a major joint. Here are some ways to treat this type of burn:

    • You can clean the skins with cool running water and mild soap, as needed.
    • You may want to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.
    • Apply 100% pure clear aloe vera gel to soothe the skin, if skin is not blistered or cracking.
    • Avoid using butter, or any ointments or sprays which contain oil or petroleum products, these can cause the damage to extend deeper into the layers of the skin.
  • Second-degree burns, damage both the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. This type of burn is more serious and will appear red, blistered and may be swollen and painful. Most second degree burns heal within two to three weeks, depending on the severity of the blisters. You can clean a mild second-degree burn by doing the same tips listed above; Avoid applying any gels, lotions, creams, or ointments to open blisters for the first 24 hours. See your doctor if you have blisters over more than a 3 inch area. You should seek emergency medical treatment if burns affect more than 3 inch area of the face, hands, buttocks, groin or feet.
  • Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layer of tissue. This type of burn may leave skin appearing white, charred or dark brown and damage is so severe that you many not feel pain because your nerves are damaged. DO NOT attempt to treat a third-degree burn at home. Call 911 immediately. Third degree burns carry the most risk for complications, such as infections, loss of blood and shock.

Ways to prepare for the Doctor

If you are going to see your doctor soon:

  • Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Do not put any salve or medicine on the burned area, so your doctor can properly assess your burn.
  • Do not put ice or butter on the burned area, because these measures do not help and can damage the skin tissue.

The best way to fight burns is to prevent them from happening altogether. Some jobs may put you at greater risk for burns; however most burns happen at home. Infants and children are at greater risk for burns and require additional precautions to keep them safe. All burns carry the risk of infection because bacteria can enter broken skin, causing illness, shock or even death. If you feel you have a severe burn seek medical treatment right away.


Burns: Heat, Electrical, Radiation, Friction, and Chemical Burns. (2012, December 27). Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/tc/burns-topic-overview
Classification of Burns. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=classification-of-burns-90-P09575&sid
Khan, A., & Solan, M. (2014, August 13). Burns: Types, Treatments, and More. Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.healthline.com/health/burns#Overview1
Staff, H. (2012, December 27). Treating Burns: First Aid and Home Treatment for Minor Burns. Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/tc/burns-home-treatment