Difference Between First and Second Degree Burns

July 19, 2022

Burns happen. They can occur from cooking indoors, grilling, styling hair, starting a bonfire, and so much more. First burns can often be treated at home, but second and third-degree burns are much more severe. AFC Urgent Care North Bergen has the tools to help treat certain second-degree burns, but it’s important to understand the differences.

Friction burns, sunburns, and burns from chemicals are also possible, but they are either less common or cause minor symptoms. If you or someone else loses consciousness, visit the emergency room. Any third-degree burn should be treated in the emergency room. Visit AFC North Bergen for other burn or physical pain treatment today.


First-Degree Burns

It is more than likely that you have suffered from a first-degree burn at least once in your life. First-degree burns are superficial and are considered pretty mild. They are still painful but are not a major cause for concern. Symptoms of a first-degree burn include pain and redness at the site but no blisters.

First-degree burns will heal and go away on their own. They can be treated with topical ointments, such as aloe vera gel or antibiotics. Patients also may take acetaminophen to help with the pain.


Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns are a bit more severe than first-degree. They affect more layers of skin and also cause pain and redness. However, blisters are more likely to develop, and swelling is possible.

Depending on the size of the second-degree burn, it may also heal without medical intervention. If the skin has been damaged, however, it’s best to get the burn looked at.

Second-degree burns will also need to be treated with an antibiotic ointment or a prescription. Patients can still take pain medication as needed, but it’s important not to go over the daily dosage. Bandages may also be used to help keep the wound clean.


Potential Complications

If left untreated, more severe burns can lead to further complications. It’s important to get all burns above first-degree checked by a medical provider. If first-degree burn symptoms do not get better over time, get checked by a doctor.

Some potential complications from untreated burns include:

  • Bacteria in an open wound
  • Sepsis
  • Hypothermia
  • Loss of too much blood
  • Bone or joint problems

Preventing Future Burns

Be sure to always pay close attention while cooking anything, especially when there are children around. Make sure your home has a fire extinguisher that is easily accessible. Don’t put any electrical equipment near water and keep them away from children. Lastly, always check the temperature of bath water before giving your child a bath.

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