While many burns are serious, you do not need to go to the hospital for all of them. Below we discuss different types of burns and when to go to the hospital.

First-degree burns: Should I go to the hospital?

You can usually treat a first-degree burn at home. But there are a few cases where you should go to the hospital:

  • You are unsure of its severity
  • It is very painful
  • The burn involves the eyes, face, ears, joints, hands, feet, or groin
  • You suffered an electrical or chemical burn
  • The burn affects a small child

In these cases, go to the emergency department for treatment.

Second-degree burns: Should I go to the hospital?

If your burn is large or meets any of the criteria listed above, go to the hospital. If your second-degree burn is small (less than two inches), call your doctor for an appointment or visit an urgent care facility.

Further, if you notice any signs of infection, seek medical treatment right away.

Third- and fourth-degree burns: Should I go to the hospital?

Yes. Go to the hospital immediately. Without immediate treatment at a hospital or burn center, third– and fourth-degree burns can be fatal.

If your burn appears waxy or leathery; your skin turns black, brown, yellow, or white; or if you feel no pain in the burned area, you need medical attention immediately. (The lack of pain likely means you have damaged nerve endings.)

Also, if you begin to feel dizzy or disoriented, call 911 immediately; you could be going into shock. Once you have called 9-1-1, lay down on the ground, cover yourself with a coat or blanket, and elevate your feet.

Is there anything I can do to treat my burn before I head to the hospital?

If you are heading to the hospital, chances are you have a serious burn. Never put anything on a second-, third-, or fourth- degree burn, as you can cause infection or an allergic reaction. You may run your burn under cool (not cold) water for 15 to 20 minutes as you wait for emergency personnel to arrive.

For chemical burns, call Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) to determine the best course of action. If you sustained a chemical burn in your eyes, irrigate your eyes for at least 30 minutes.

How can I get help paying for my hospital treatment?

If you received treatment at a hospital or burn center for a burn that another party caused, you may have a valid legal case to collect compensation for damages. Call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774 to connect with a lawyer who can help you.