Second-degree burns (partial thickness burns) affect more than just the outer layer of skin. They are not only more painful than first-degree burns, but also are more susceptible to infection. A medical professional should treat any type of burn that is more than just a small superficial injury.
What is a second-degree burn?
Second-degree burns extend beyond the top layer of skin (epidermis), causing damage to deeper layers of tissue (dermis). One of the ways you can tell a second-degree burn from a first-degree burn is by the blisters that usually form with second-degree burns.
With burns of this severity, blisters form and may then break open, giving the burn site a wet and shiny appearance. Other symptoms of a second-degree burn include:
- Pain when touched
- Deep redness
- Discoloration around the burn area
What are the common causes of second-degree burns?
All burns, no matter their source, are classified according to the severity of the damage they cause. All burn sources, from chemicals to fires, can cause second-degree burns or worse. According to The University of Rochester Medical Center, most second-degree burn cases are attributable to the following:
- Scalding hot water
- Brief contact with a hot object (like a pan or hot coals)
- Chemicals, such as chemical spills at work or cleaners in the home
How are second-degree burns treated?
To reduce the pain, run cool water over the burn site for 15 to 30 minutes until the pain subsides. Do not use ice, ice compresses, or ice water which could cause even more tissue damage, cautions FastMed Urgent Care.
Because second-degree burns have blisters that may break, patients should bandage the burn area. Use a non-stick bandage, wrapped loosely to prevent the bandage from getting stuck in the wound as it dries. Do not use cotton balls or cotton rags.
You should see a doctor for an evaluation and treatment. Some second-degree burns are so extensive that surgery may be required. Tetanus is also a danger with serious burns, so also make sure you are up to date on your boosters. The doctor will probably recommend that you take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and swelling, as well as antibiotic cream to reduce the risk of infection.
Is there anything else I should know about second-degree burns?
Most second-degree burns heal within a few weeks. If it is not healing correctly or becomes infected, call your doctor right away. Also, be aware that many second-degree burns are more sensitive to sunlight while healing, so reduce sun exposure as it heals.
Also, some burns may become a different color than the surrounding skin as they heal, speak to your doctor about ways to minimize the risk of scarring and discoloration, particularly if the burn is on a prominent area of your body.
It can also be important to investigate and understand the causes behind your burn. You may have misused a cleaner. Or maybe the electrical device you were using malfunctioned. Or perhaps someone was rushing and spilled hot water on you in the kitchen you work in.
If you were being careful but you suffered a burn anyway, explore your legal options. While not as severe as third-degree burns, second-degree burns still may cause disability or have significant emotional and psychological effects, particularly if the burned area is large or located on the torso, extremities, groin, or face. And that is not even accounting for the medical bills and loss of wages that some people experience.
You might be entitled to secure compensation for your medical bills, lost time at work, emotional pain and suffering, etc. Talk to our lawyer referral specialists for help finding a lawyer to answer your questions and help you file a claim. Call 844-549-8774.