Burns can be caused by fire, hot surfaces, steam, scalding liquids, chemicals, electricity, or the sun. The severity of a burn depends upon the type of "heat" and the duration of exposure to it.
Signs and Symptoms
First-Degree Burns (affect the outer layer of skin)
Second-Degree Burns (affect both the outer and lower layers of skin)
- Redness, pain, swelling, and sensitivity to touch of the burned area.
- Burned skin remains intact.
- Same as first-degree burns but more severe.
- Blisters and/or shiny, weepy, or watery areas.
- White, cooked, or charred-appearing skin.
- Often little or no pain initially because nerves have been destroyed.
- More severe complications than with first or second-degree burns.
- Clean the area gently with mild soap and water.
- Soak the burned area in cold (not ice) water for 10 minutes to relieve tenderness.
- Don't use butter, ointments, or oil-based products on the burn.
- Take a non-prescription pain reliever as needed for pain. Ibuprofen is preferred.
- Don't break blisters. Cover blistered areas with a dry dressing that won't stick to your skin. Change it at least twice a day - more often, if needed.
CALL THE UHS NURSE ADVICE LINE at (512) 475-6877 (NURS) IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
- Any part of a burn appears to be a third-degree burn
- Any size second-degree burn if you haven't had a tetanus shot within the last 5 years or you're not sure when you had your last tetanus shot
- Any burn to the head, face, or genital areas or any second-degree or large burn to the hands, especially on the palms
- Multiple burned areas or a first or second-degree burn that is larger than the palm of your hand
- Signs of infection such as increased redness, pain, swelling, or a fever above 100.5 degrees F (38 degrees C)
- Yellow or persistent bloody discharge in the burned area
CALL 911 OR GO DIRECTLY TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM FOR ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
- Burns caused by electricity, especially if there was a loss of consciousness
- Burns to your eyes, including those caused by chemicals
- Burns that are obviously severe and/or over a significant part of your body
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