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What are the Different Types of Burn Treatment?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Burn treatment can be broadly divided into burn care offered at home and treatment provided in a hospital. The type of treatment a patient needs depends on the cause and severity of the burn. It is important to take patients with severe burns to the hospital for treatment. If patients are being cared for at home and the signs of infections or complications develop, they should be taken to receive medical attention. Burns can be very dangerous.

Burns themselves are classified as first, second, or third degree. First degree burns, also known as superficial burns, involve only the upper layers of the skin. They can often be treated at home, although if the burn is an inhalation burn, chemical burn, or electrical burn, a doctor should examine the patient. Second degree or partial thickness burns penetrate deeper into the skin. They are more serious, and medical attention may be needed, especially if a burn covers a large area of the skin.

Third degree or full thickness burns are very serious and require burn treatment in a hospital. These burns penetrate all the way into the deepest layers of the skin. The patient often reports that the burn is not painful, as a result of damage to the nerve endings, and the burn appears white and thick. If large areas of the skin are covered by third degree burns, the patient can be at risk of very serious complications.

Types of burns include thermal, electrical, chemical, inhalation, and scald burns. As a general rule, chemical, inhalation, and electrical burns should be treated in a hospital. Mild thermal and scald burns can be managed very well with burn treatment at home. Deeper burns or burns acquired in circumstances where there is a risk of contamination should be treated in a hospital.

Immediate first aid burn treatment involves cooling the burn with cool water. If the burn is being cared for at home, antibiotic ointments can be applied to limit infection and to keep the skin moist. Over time, the skin will heal and the upper layers will blister and slough off. During healing, it is important to avoid picking at or puncturing the blisters.

For serious burns, while water cooling in the immediate aftermath of the injury can help limit the damage, the patient needs to be taken to the hospital. Hospital burn treatment can involve debridement of dead tissue, administration of fluids to address fluid loss associated with burns, surgical grafts of skin and tissue, and monitoring for signs of infection.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Oct 02, 2013

@turquoise-- For simple, non-serious burns like sun burns, you can use home remedies like plain yogurt and honey.

But second and third degree burns can be dangerous and those need severe burn treatment with special bandages and creams to promote healing and prevent infections.

For example, I had a second degree oil burn last month. I was treated at the hospital with ionized silver bandages. They gave me extra bandages and I changed it everyday at home. Surprisingly, my burn healed in no time and didn't get infected.

By ZipLine — On Oct 01, 2013

@turquoise-- If there is no blistering, I recommend using pure aloe vera gel. Aloe vera gel is cooling and soothing. It promotes healing. If you get the kind with pain reliever in it from the pharmacy, it will also relieve your pain.

If there is blistering, you should use an antibiotic cream instead to prevent an infection. Blistering is also a sign of a more serious burn, so you might want to have your doctor check it out if that happens.

By turquoise — On Oct 01, 2013

I have a first degree sun burn on my back. I fell asleep in my friend's tanning bed. My back is completely red and painful. I can't even bear anything touching it. What should I do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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