For most, the second-degree burn will heal in a few weeks without any lasting visible reminders of the burn. But some people might experience skin discoloration in the affected area. Some second-degree burns leave scars.

Why might second-degree burns leave scars or discoloration?

Second-degree burns bring a risk of discoloration and scars because they damage skin tissue deeper than that damaged by first-degree burns. While first-degree burns only damage the outermost layer of skin, known as the epidermis, second-degree burns damage the epidermis as well as deeper layers of skin called the dermis.

After a second-degree burn heals, the skin may lose melanin, which makes the skin lighter, referred to as hypopigmentation. Some people notice a slightly lighter appearance of the affected area compared to the surrounding skin tone, while others notice a more dramatic contrast. The darker the person’s skin tone was before the burn injury, the more likely the melanin changes will be noticeable. Melanin changes can be spotty, blotchy, or result in large patches.

Sometimes the affected area will look darker after it heals, referred to as hyperpigmentation. This is more likely for people with lighter skin tones. Unprotected sun exposure in the months and years after a burn injury can also result in darkening of the skin in the affected area.

How else might second-degree burns heal?

In addition to noticeable scars and discoloration, some people who suffer second-degree burns notice that their skin is more sensitive after it heals. Skin may also lose some elasticity or flexibility. Talk to your doctor about any changes you notice in your skin after a second-degree burn. Your doctor can also give you a better idea of how your burn may heal after examining your injury.

How can I help my second-degree burn heal without any scarring or discoloration?

Follow your doctor’s treatment advice. While minor second-degree burns generally do not require significant medical treatment, more serious or extensive burns may require treatment. Learn more about treatment to prevent scarring.

Home care for a second-degree burn may include:

  • Applying a doctor-approved ointment, like Aloe vera.
  • Keeping the burn site clean and following any bandaging instructions to prevent infection.
  • Preventing sun exposure, especially in the weeks and months after the injury.

If another party is responsible for your burn, you may have grounds to pursue compensation to cover your treatment and other damages. Call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774 for help finding a lawyer who can help.