Burns

Injury Definition

  • A burn is a thermal (heat) injury to the skin. Burns are classified as:
  • 1st degree - reddened skin without blisters (doesn't need to be seen)
  • 2nd degree - reddened skin with blisters (takes 2 to 3 weeks to heal)
  • 3rd degree - deep burns with white or charred skin. Skin sensation is absent. Usually needs a skin graft to prevent bad scarring if it is larger than a quarter (1 inch) in size.

See More Appropriate Topic if

First Aid for Thermal Burns

  • Immediately (don't take time to remove clothing) put the burned part in cold tap water or pour cold water over it for 10 minutes. (Reason: lessen the depth of the burn and relieve pain)

First Aid for Chemical Burns

  • Remove any contaminated clothing
  • Flush the chemical off the skin with warm water for 10 minutes. For large areas, use a shower

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) if

  • Large 2nd or 3rd degree burn
  • Difficulty breathing with burn to the face

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You think your child has a serious burn
  • Large blister is present
  • Eye or eyelid burn
  • Center of the burn is white or charred
  • Electrical current burn
  • Explosion or gun powder caused the burn
  • Acid or alkali burn (First aid: flush with tap water for 10 minutes)
  • Chemical on skin that causes a blister (First aid: flush with tap water for 10 minutes)
  • House fire burn
  • Burn looks infected

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home if

  • Mild thermal or chemical burn and you don't think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for 1st Degree Burns or Small Blisters

  1. Pain Medicine: For pain, apply cold compresses and take acetaminophen every 4 hours or ibuprofen every 6 hours.
  2. Cleansing: Wash the area gently with an antibacterial liquid soap and water once a day.
  3. Blisters: Don't open any small closed blisters - the outer skin protects the burn from infection.
  4. Expected Course: It will probably hurt for 2 days and peel like a sunburn in about a week. Fortunately, first- and second-degree burns don't leave scars.
  5. Call Your Doctor If
    • Severe pain persists > 2 hours after giving pain medicine.
    • Burn starts to look infected (pus, red streaks, increased tenderness)
    • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the "Call Your Doctor Now" symptoms