Types of Injuries and What to Do

No matter what type or size of burn, the Burn Center is always available to help.

Burns are described in many ways, such as by depth (type) and size or as minor or major.

Burn Depth

First-degree burns:

Only affect the outer layer of skin called the epidermis and cause pain, redness, and swelling. Looks like a sunburn with no blistering. They are dry, red, and painful.

Second-degree burns:

Affect the outer and underlying layer of skin called the epidermis. Second degree burns are red, blistered or open, have swelling, and very painful.

Third-degree burns:

Affect all layers of skin called the epidermis and dermis and sometimes deeper tissues. They are often thick and leathery in appearance; can be white, deep red, or black in color; and often have no feeling due to damaged nerve endings.

Burn Size

There are a number of ways to evaluate the size and depth of burn. When patients come in the Burn Center, for example, we evaluate the burn areas using complex formulas that help the Burn Team determine the amount of replacement fluids to give. However, a good rule of thumb in estimating the size of a burn: the palm of the burn patient’s hand = 1% burn.

Minor Burns

The staff at the Burn Center is always available to answer questions about a burn injury. If you or someone you know is burned, here are few, simple tips to keep in mind for small, minor burns:

  • Stop the burning process immediately.
    Small burns may be cooled with water; large burns need to be covered with a dry sheet.
  • Clean the injury with mild soap and water.
  • Remove clothing, jewelry, shoes before swelling.
  • Apply a small amount of antimicrobial ointment.
  • Cover wound loosely with gauze or sterile dressing.
  • Do NOT apply butter, grease, or ointment.
  • Do NOT soak the wound in ice water.
  • Do NOT break blisters.
  • Do NOT remove clothing that sticks to a burn.

Major Burns

Seek immediate medical attention or call 911 if the injury consists of any of the following:

  • is a second-degree or third-degree burn.
  • covers more than 5% of your body.
  • affects the airway or involves face burns.
  • is a chemical or electrical burn.