- 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.
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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
- Pain Medicine: For pain, apply cold compresses and take acetaminophen every 4 hours or ibuprofen every 6 hours.
- Cleansing: Wash the area gently with an antibacterial liquid soap and water once a day.
- Blisters: Don’t open any small closed blisters – the outer skin protects the burn from infection.
- 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.
- 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