UT University Health Services

Burns

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)
  • Redness, pain, swelling, and sensitivity to touch of the burned area.
  • Burned skin remains intact.

Second-Degree Burns (affect both the outer and lower layers of skin)
  • Same as first-degree burns but more severe.
  • Blisters and/or shiny, weepy, or watery areas.

Third-Degree Burns
  • 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.

Self-Care

  • 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

Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

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