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Understanding Second-Degree Burns

Posted On 06/25/18

What Are Second-Degree Burns?

Second-degree burns involve the top two layers of skin: the dermis and the epidermis. They are also known as partial thickness burns and often result in blistering. A second-degree burn can result in more pain, swelling, and are more severe than a first-degree burn. These burns are treatable at home, as long as the damage is not too widespread.

Symptoms of a Second-Degree Burn

Second-degree burns can appear in several ways. Most often, you can recognize a second-degree burn through redness of the skin and blistering due to the more extensive skin damage. Other times a second-degree burn may appear wet and shiny, or sometimes white or discolored in an irregular pattern.

Second-Degree Burn Pain

These burns also make the skin painful to the touch. The level of pain can be very severe, especially in comparison to a first-degree burn. Burns that cover a very large area, especially those that cover more than ten percent of the skin, are severe burns.

Sometimes the symptoms of a second-degree burn resemble other medical conditions. If you are ever unsure about a burn, consult your doctor.

Common Causes of a Second-Degree Burn

Like first-degree burns, second-degree burns can come from sunburns, scalding, and electricity, though the penetration of damage in the skin is much more severe. Anytime skin comes in brief contact with a hot object there is a risk of a second-degree burn.

Open flames are another great risk factor for second-degree burns. Contact with a flame can cause anywhere between very mild to incredibly severe damage. Hot oil, such as in a deep fryer or snapping out of a pan while cooking is another common cause of partial-thickness burns.

Chemicals also can cause second-degree burns, though this is not related to the temperature of the substance. Some chemicals have very corrosive properties and can damage the skin in the same way as a burn. It is critical, therefore, to carefully follow safety procedures when handling chemicals.

Treatment for Second-Degree Burns

As with first-degree burns, your first step upon suffering a second-degree burn should be to run the wound under cool water for five to fifteen minutes. This helps not just with relaxing the burn, but also with washing away any contaminants that may have gotten in the wound, as second-degree burns are open and at risk for infection.

So long as the injury does not cover more than ten percent of the skin, you can treat a second-degree burn at home. However, more maintenance is necessary for proper healing. Since these burns are at a risk for infection, they should remain covered.

When applying a bandage or gauze, you’ll want to make sure that you apply some form of antibiotic to the wound so that skin does not stick to the dressing and peel away upon removal. Depending on the severity of the burn, you should change the dressing at least once or twice a day. You should also clean the wound daily to clear away any dead skin or dried antibiotic that could prevent the wound from healing.

Blisters form to protect your damaged skin. If your burn has developed a blister, you should let it be so it can help your burn properly heal. Even with a blister, you should still wrap the wound to prevent further damage. If your blister pops, you can leave the layer of skin to continue to protect your burn.

If you don’t feel confident enough to take care of your second-degree burn, if you notice signs of infection, or if your burn is extensive and covers more than ten percent of the skin, seek medical help. A doctor can advise you on proper treatment and recommend any necessary medications. With proper treatment, second-degree burns can heal in as little as three weeks, though deeper burns may take longer.

If you or a loved one has sustained second-degree burns from another’s negligent actions, contact Begam Marks & Traulsen, P.A. today; our Phoenix burn injury lawyers are dedicated to helping Arizona victims of negligence.

Additional Burn Information and Resources

For additional information regarding the varying degrees of burns, please visit the following pages: first-degree burns, third-degree burnsfourth-degree burns, fifth-degree burns, and sixth-degree burns. For information on other burn types, such as burns sustained from vehicle fires, please visit our practice area page.