Burns can be caused by heat, fire, radiation, sunlight, electricity, hot or boiling liquids, or chemicals.
First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin. They are red and painful, might swell a little, and turn white when you press on the skin. First degree burns usually heal in 2 to 3 days and can be treated at home.
Second-degree burns affect the second layer of the skin, are very painful, and typically produce blisters or moist areas on the skin. The skin is red or splotchy, and might be very swollen.
Third-degree burns damage all layers of the skin, and sometimes other tissues. The burned skin looks white or charred. There may little or no pain because the nerves and tissue in the skin are damaged.
Some areas of a burn may be deeper and more severe, and it might be difficult to tell how serious a burn is. If you have doubts about the severity of a burn or how to care for it, see a doctor right away.
See a doctor immediately if:
Call a doctor if the burn:
Call 911 right away. Remove jewelry, belts, or constrictive clothing. Do not remove cloth that is stuck to the burn. Cover the burned area with a cool, damp cloth. Do not attempt to immerse a large burn in cool water. If possible, elevate the burned area above the level of the heart. Watch for signs of shock.
Most sunburn can be treated by taking a cool shower and applying aloe vera gel or a moisturizer. Drink fluids and avoid exposure to the sun for several days. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and discomfort.
Seek medical attention if the sunburn covers a large area, is very painful, or forms blisters, or if you experience:
DISCLAIMER: The information on this page is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. It is information that is generally available. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.