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Major and Minor Burns

Discover When Burns Can Be Treated at Home and When They Require Emergency Care

Suffering a burn is painful, but it’s not always a medical emergency. If you have a superficial burn, you can treat it at home and expect a full recovery. However, around 1.1 million Americans require medical treatment after burns each year. If you have a severe injury, you need to go to the emergency room to have the wound debrided and treated to prevent infection. Also, you might require IV antibiotics and a skin graft as part of your treatment plan.

Is a First-degree Burn a Medical Emergency?

If the burn only affects the skin’s epidermis (outer layer), you have a first-degree burn. While the site will be red, dry, and painful, it’s not an emergency. Instead, you can undergo minor burn treatment at home.

Minor Burn – How to Treat at Home

Place a cold, wet compress on the area to cool the skin. You also need to keep it lubricated, so apply petroleum jelly three times a day.

Even though it’s a superficial injury, it can get infected, so use an antibiotic ointment. Then, place loose gauze on the area to cover it.

You will experience some discomfort, so you can take over-the-counter pain relievers. However, follow the instructions if taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to minimize the risk of side effects.

Should You Go to the ER With a Second-degree Burn?

You have a second-degree burn if the skin’s epidermis and part of the dermis layer are affected. Redness, blisters, swelling, and pain are common symptoms of this type of injury. While more severe than a first-degree burn, you can likely treat it at home using the same strategy. However, if the burn covers a large area of your body, you should seek medical attention. In addition, go to the doctor if the blisters have popped since that can cause an infection.

Are Third-degree Burns Medical Emergencies?

A third-degree burn is the most serious, destroying the epidermis and epidermis while damaging bones, muscles, and tendons. It is so severe that it can destroy nerves, too, so you might lose feeling in the affected area.

Shock and dehydration can occur immediately after experiencing a third-degree burn, so don’t delay seeking medical treatment.

If you have a large second-degree burn, a third-degree burn, or a minor burn that isn’t getting better, visit the emergency room. Your medical team can stabilize and assess you and then administer the necessary treatment. From pain relief to life-saving measures, the right treatment can help you start down the road to recovery.