Second-degree burns can be painful to experience, and be difficult to look at. However, they can sometimes be treated at home under the guidance of a medical professional, as long as you understand how to properly treat them without causing further damage. If you are unsure about the severity of a burn, or if you don’t feel confident about your ability to self-treat, consult a health care professional immediately.
After the burn has been treated, it does make sense to consult with a health care professional, if you are concerned. You should also contact a personal injury attorney if the burn was caused due to the actions of another person, or if it happened on the job.
If you have been burned by a chemical, seek medical attention immediately.
Types of Second-Degree Burns
Second-degree burns are often referred to as partial-thickness burns because they often affect more than one layer of skin, but do not go “as deep” down through skin layers as third-degree burns. There are two main types of second-degree burns. It helps to understand these types of burns, and to realize that it can sometimes take a few days to determine which type of burn you are dealing with. The two types of second-degree burns are:
Superficial: These types of burns are limited to the first and second layers of skin. They are painful and can include blistering. If you press the skin around the burn, it turns white, but then goes back to looking red when released. Usually, superficial second-degree burns are caused by hot objects and hot water.
Deep: These burns go deeper than the second layer of skin (but still aren’t third-degree burns) and appear white with red areas. The whiteness doesn’t disappear if there isn’t pressure on the skin around the burn area. Additionally, instead of appearing moist, like a superficial burn, a deep second-degree burn can appear waxy. Blisters may be broken in this type of burn, and that means infection is possible. Contact with hot oil or grease, or liquids that have been microwaved, are often causes of these deeper second-degree burns.
As always, treatment depends on the severity of the burn, as well as the age and health of the injured person. It’s important to do what you can initially, and then consult with a professional if you have questions.
Treating Second-Degree Burns
One of the best things to do with a second-degree burn is to rinse the area with cool water. It’s important not to use ice, or to use ice-cold water. This can actually damage the skin further. Instead use cool water to gradually soothe the skin and bring the temperature down. It can take between 15 and 30 minutes to be effective. You put certain parts of the body (fingers, toes, arms, legs, etc.) in a container of water, but you might need to make a cool compress for the face or other parts of the body.
If possible, remove clothing and jewelry that can be too tight if swelling occurs. Swelling is common with these types of burns, so it’s a good idea to remove what you can before it begins.
When cleaning a second-degree burn, it’s important to be careful. Be sure that your own hands are clean before you begin. You can use a mild soap and cool water. Be careful not to break any blisters that might be present. Clean gently, and pat the area dry. Don’t scrub.
Antibiotic ointment can be used to help treat the burn, but it’s important not to use butter or oil. These things actually trap the heat inside the burn, and can make it worse.
Bandage burns that include broken blisters and skin. Bandages should be clean, and shouldn’t be tight. If you need to change a bandage, and it sticks to the burn, soak it in cool water so it loosens for easier removal.
When should I talk to a personal injury attorney?
Sometimes a burn will be cause to visit with a personal injury attorney. Here are some examples of when it’s important for you to call an experienced burn lawyer:
- When the burn was caused by the fault of another person.
- When the burn prevents you from working.
- When an employer or another person ignores your pain or tries to get you to work when you’ve been hurt.
- When an employer or another person prevents you from seeking medical help.
- If a burn was caused by unsafe working conditions.
- If this type of burn has happened more than once, especially to more than one person.
- If it’s a burn that could have been prevented.
- If the burn injury leads to complications or additional injury.
A personal injury attorney can help you determine what the best course of action should be and if your rights have been infringed. A conversation with Morris Anderson is free, and we’ll give you good advice.