Second degree burns cause damage that extends beyond the first layer of skin, typically in the form of blisters and thickening of the skin. Learn how to properly treat them at home and when to seek medical attention.
Treatment for Second Degree Burns: Assessing the Damage
Sunburns, scalds, and electrical burns are all common burns that typically only affect the first layer of skin. These are known as first-degree burns, and they are the mildest type of skin burn. Second degree burns are more serious, as they cause damage that extends beyond the first layer of skin, typically in the form of blisters and thickening of the skin.
With second degree burns, the skin can ooze, swell, or appear wet when blisters burst. The treatment method for second degree burns and the severity of the burns affect how quickly they can heal, which is typically in about 2-3 weeks.
How to Care for Second Degree Burns
Treatment for second degree burns may include:
- Rinsing the burn with cool water until the pain stops (15-30 minutes). DO NOT use ice water, which can cause tissue damage. You can also apply cool compresses to the burn.
- Cleaning the burn with mild soap and water. Some of the burned skin may wash off, but be careful not to break any blisters, as they can easily get infected. Once you clean the burn, you can apply an antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin or Polysporin.
- Bandaging the burn with a loosely wrapped, non-stick bandage to prevent infection.
- Elevating the area of the burn to decrease swelling.
Most second degree burns can be treated as minor burns if the burn area is no more than 2-3 inches, but seek medical help if you feel your burn is severe.
Healthcare professionals will know how to quickly treat second degree burns. In some severe cases skin grafting—a procedure that uses healthy skin from another area of the body to replace the burned skin—is required to fix the damage.
If you need treatment for first or second degree burns, FastMed Urgent Care is here to assist you. With extended hours every day and on holidays and weekends, there’s a location nearby ready to provide prompt, quality burn treatment.