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Second Degree Burn Treatment

It is important to know how to treat and ease the pain of someone suffering from burns. Treatment for second degree burns can be administered at home if the burn is not very severe. In case of intense injury, a victim should be immediately taken to the hospital. Here is some useful information on how to identify 2nd degree burn and how to treat it...
Debopriya Bose
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Burn is damage caused to tissues of the body due to the tissue being exposed to high amount of heat. Damage to skin due to heat is referred to as a skin burn. Skin burns can be classified into three different categories - first degree, second degree and third degree burns in the increasing order of severity. Before any course of treatment for burns can be resorted to, it is important to ascertain the type of skin burn first.
Identifying Second Degree Burns
  • The most common causes of such burns are flames, chemicals, hot liquids or severe sunburns.
  • These burns damage the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and the dermis (inner layer of the skin) and are painful.
  • They usually aren't larger than 3 inches.
  • Formation of blisters that seem to be filled with clear or reddish fluid indicates a burn of second degree.
  • Even if the blisters are tiny, it is a sign of a burn of this degree.
  • The skin usually turns reddish and you will be able to see white splotches in it.
  • Swelling and severe pain in the burnt area.
The aim of second degree burn treatment is to reduce pain and chances of infection. Minor burn treatment can be easily accomplished at home with simple methods of burn care.
  • Wash your hands before cleaning a burn.
  • Remove any piece of cloth or jewelry from the burned area.
  • Place the burnt area under a tap of cold running water or apply cold water compress.
  • If possible, keep the affected part raised (in case of arms or legs) to reduce swelling. It is necessary to keep the burned arm or leg raised, for the first two days.
  • Wash smaller burns with antiseptic cleanser. You may apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • Cover the burn with a dry non-stick dressing such as a gauze. Leave the bandage on for 24 hours.
  • If the bandage is stuck to the wound, soak it in warm water. This facilitates easy removal of bandage. Such wounds need to be dressed daily.
  • Bandage is essential if the blisters are broken open.
  • Be alert about signs of infection like swelling, pus, increasing pain or redness.
  • Medicines like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin can be taken to relieve pain from burn. However, do not give aspirin to those below the age of 18 as aspirin increases the risk of children suffering from a serious illness called Reye's syndrome.
  • You should move the burned leg or arm as usual, at regular intervals. Otherwise, the damaged skin may heal too tightly, and can lead to restricted movement of the affected arm or leg.
Serious Mistakes to Avoid
While treating burns of the second degree,
  • Do not put ice or ice water in the burnt area as this may further increase damage to the skin
  • Do not use fluffy cotton or regular adhesive bandage or other material that may get stuck into the wound.
  • If there are blisters do not burst them as the burnt skin may develop infection.
  • Do not put cold cream, oil, butter, egg white, grease or petroleum jelly on the burn as these substances trap the heat in and damage the tissues lying deeper.
  • In case the person is in a state of shock, do not give him any liquid to drink. Otherwise, small amounts of water or juice can be given to the person to make up for the loss of fluids from the body.
Treatment for Chemical Burns
  • In case of chemical burn, any cloth around the affected area should be removed first.
  • Then the burnt area should be washed with water for 20 to 30 minutes so that the chemical is thoroughly removed form the skin.
  • In case, water is not available and the burn is due to dry chemicals, dust the chemical off the skin using a clean cloth.
  • It is important to get rid of any trace of chemical from skin. Hence, be sure to use enough of water to wash off the chemical, as certain chemicals get activated when they come in contact with water.
  • Then, as in other cases, loosely cover the burnt area with a clean, non sticky dressing.
  • Different chemicals have different effects. Hence, it always helps to read the label of the chemical bottle for additional information.
Effects of Severe Burns
  • Severe burns can make an individual go into shock.
  • The shock is caused due to loss of excess fluids from body which results in such steep drop in blood pressure that the brain and other major organs of the body do not get enough blood.
  • Shock may be manifested as fainting, increase in the rate of pulse and breathing, feeling of weakness, nausea and vomiting.
  • In some case the lips and fingernails turn blue and the skin becomes pale, moist and cold. The person needs immediate medical attention.
Minor burns usually heal without leaving any scar. The treatment for second degree burns depends upon the severity of the damage caused to the tissue. If the burn appears to be acute and the victim seems to be in immense pain, medical help should be sought without delay.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.