Second-degree burns can vary in intensity from sunburn to a serious scalding; but no matter what the cause, it is a serious injury. It depends largely on one's complexion, hair color and age to determine how long it takes a second-degree burn to heal.
If you just arrived in your tropical vacation paradise from the frozen northern wastelands, it is understandable that you will drop your bags at your hotel and immediately change into your swimsuit to go to the beach or pool.
Having had little exposure to the UV rays of the sun for a few months, your skin will not tolerate much of the damaging rays, and before you know it the combination of direct sunlight pouring down upon you with indirect sunlight reflected from the water will quickly have you turning red, the first sign of being burnt.
The best thing to do upon arrival is to apply the strongest sun block you can find, or maybe even wear a T-shirt, and limit your initial exposure to no more than 30 minutes-15 minutes if you are a redhead or have a very light complexion.
If it is too late for this advice and you are already burnt, start out by taking a very lengthy cool, though not cold, shower. A lot of the heat from the sun is stored in the fatty layers of your skin, so the longer you cool it down, the better.
Immediately after your shower, while your pores are still wide open, gently apply aloe gel to your skin and do that as often as you can. Do not apply ice, butter or egg whites, as that will increase your chances of serious infection.
Generally, this natural plant remedy is available in most hotel stores and nearby drugstores, and it is not very pricey compared to a visit to the dermatologist. If you have any aloe vera leaves available to you, this is also a great option, as the fresher the juice is, the more effective it is. You can also mix it with some vitamin E from a capsule.
If you start to form blisters on the first or second day, you should seek medical assistance because you have a very serious case of sunburn.
How long do second-degree burns take to heal?
Serious sunburn may ruin your whole vacation! If you develop blisters and subsequent peeling, your "lizard tan" will go home with you. Full healing will take three weeks to a month. For several days, you will have terrible nights, as merely laying in your bed will cause you great discomfort. The older you are, the less your skin can tolerate burn injuries and the time for healing will become exponentially longer.
One very important thing to remember is that if you have a light complexion and you get overexposed to ultraviolet rays on several occasions, you will increase the chances of getting skin cancer, or melanoma, one of the most common forms of cancer, which if not caught early, will metastasize and quite possibly kill you, so take all the necessary precautions.
Other types of burns
Other common ways of burning yourself may be with steam, direct exposure to flame or hot water, or chemical burns. If you feel that you injured yourself more than just superficially, seek medical attention immediately, also immersing the affected part into cool water (though this might not be advisable with certain chemical burns, so check). If large parts of your body are affected, as in a flash explosion, have someone cover you with wet towels or moisten your clothing (again checking that this is the proper course of action if the burn is a chemical burn). Do not immerse yourself in cold water, as that may bring about a fatal shock. Direct-contact burns may take longer to heal, as the depth of the burn will exceed that of sunburn.