Skin Burns: Recognizing First, Second, and Third Degree Burns

Skin burns are extremely painful and may range from first degree to third degree. Regardless of the extent of the skin burn, prompt treatment is usually required. Classifying a skin burn may be difficult. For example, victims may have difficulty distinguishing between a first/second degree burn and second/third degree burn. Here are a few tips to help you quickly identify burns, and know which treatment to seek.

First Degree Skin Burns:

� Least severe type of burn
� Injures only the top layer of skin
� Symptoms include skin that is red, sore, swollen, and itchy
� Often causes by sun damage, chemicals, steam, hot water, friction, and cigarettes

*Home Treatment

� Hold the burn area under cold water for 10 minutes
� Apply burn cream or ointment
� Cover area with a sterile gauze
� Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain

Second Degree Skin Burns

� Injures top layer of skin and tissue
� Symptoms include red and blistered skin. Very painful
� Large second degree burns may result in shock (fainting, weakness, nausea, moist skin)
� Often caused by hot flames, severe sun burn, grease, and extremely hot liquids

*Home Treatment

� Apply cold water to the burn area for 10 minutes
� If blisters are open, do not apply water.
� Protect the burn area with sterile gauze
� No not apply burn ointments to second degree burns
� Get medical attention

Third Degree Skin Burns

� The most severe type of burn
� Injures all layers of the skin
� Symptoms include skin appearing white or leathery, extreme pain, rapid heartbeat and breathing, shock, chest pains, and blistering ski.
� Often caused by fire, electricity, or explosive chemicals


� Requires immediate medical attention
� Third degree burns may require hospitalization in the burn unit.

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