Characteristics of a Second Degree Burn

Second degree burns can be quite serious. If you have a second degree burn larger than three inches in diameter, you will want to get medical attention immediately. If your second degree burn covers more than ten percent of your body, you need to call 911 or have a friend drive you to the hospital immediately to prevent shock and serious medical complications.

What Does a Second Degree Burn Look Like?
The affected skin will look bright red and splotchy; it will have developed blisters. The skin may be weeping because the burn has progressed beyond the top layer of skin and has damaged the dermis, or deeper layers of skin. You will experience a lot of pain with a second degree burn.

How Do People Usually Get Second Degree Burns?
You can get a second degree burn very quickly from fire, boiling or scalding hot water, chemicals or burning flammable liquids, such as gasoline. You can also get a second degree burn from serious sunburn. The most concerning part about second degree sunburn is the fact that sunburn may cover a significant amount of your body surface area, especially if you were tanning without sunscreen. This can send your body into shock once you try to cool your skin down and try to soothe the burn.

What Should You Do if You Have a Small Second Degree Burn?
If you have a second degree burn that is smaller than three inches in diameter or covers less than ten percent of your body, you can treat the burn at home.

Submerge the burn in cool water or apply cool, moist clothes to the burned area, being careful not to rub the damaged skin. The burned area is already quite traumatized, so you won't want to use ice, which can cause further damage. Cover the burn with loose, clean bandages, taking great care not to break the bandages. Do not apply ointments or salves; instead use burn cream designed specifically to treat burns and provide relief, such as aloe vera gel. Take an over-the-counter pain killer such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If the burn affects your face, groin, hands or feet, see a doctor.

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