Burns are the most common household injury, especially in children. They are classified as either first-degree, second-degree, third-degree or fourth-degree according to the depth of the burn. Treatment for burns varies by degree. Major burns require a trip to the ER, and minor burns can be treated at your local eMedical Urgent Care center, which is why it’s important to be able to identify their differences.
There are 4 different classifications of burns:
- First-degree burns are considered minor. They can cause red skin but rarely blister. Some first-degree burns are fine if treated at home but some cases require a visit to urgent care (for example, if the burn measures larger than 3 inches or is located on your face or a major joint).
- Second-degree burns are considered more serious than first-degree burns and cause blistering and thickening of the skin. Most second-degree burns heal within 2 to 3 weeks but can take longer and require a visit to your local urgent care center. The length of recovery is dependent on the severity and size of the burn and blistering.
- Third-degree burns are considered major and require a trip to the Emergency Room. They can cause a widespread thickening of the skin, as well as a white or black leathery appearance.
- Fourth-degree burns are the most serious as they extend beyond the skin into tendons and bones.
Common Myths about Treatment for Burns
Myths about how to treat a minor burn are numerous and these incorrect first aid treatments can be dangerous and cause more damage than cure. They include various home remedies like covering a burn with butter, grease or oil. Doing so will only cause the skin to retain heat (which is exactly the opposite of what you want to do). It also can make it difficult for medical staff to clean the affected area. Other wild misconceptions include things like applying toothpaste, cold meat, vinegar, mustard, whipped cream and even fish sauce!
Suggested Treatment for Burns
When you need to act fast, it’s important to know what to do to treat a minor burn. First, remove the source of heat (including clothes if necessary) and cool the area by immersing the burn in cool, sterile water (not ice) or saline solution. You also may cover the affected area with a cool, wet dressing until the burning stops. In the case of a chemical burn, dilute the chemical agent by irrigating with water continuously.
Seek Immediate Attention for Burns at eMedical Urgent Care
Even simple burns should be treated properly (and immediately) to prevent bacterial infections. If the burn is the size of your palm or larger, seek medical attention immediately. Early treatment of minor burns greatly impacts how well you heal. eMedical Urgent Care treats first- and second-degree burns and injuries at both of our locations. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.