In order to figure out whether a person has a serious burn or a minor one, the first step is to determine the extent of the damage done to the body tissues. Burns are classified in degrees–first, second and third. A first degree burn is the least serious and only involves the the outer layer of skin with symptoms ranging from minor pain to redness and swelling.
A second degree burn means the second layer of skin, or dermis has been burned through. Intense redness can be seen, as well as severe swelling, pain and blisters. In a third degree burn, the skin may appear dry, white or charred and all layers of skin are damaged.
A first degree burn will not usually require medical attention unless it involves a major joint or large areas of the face, groin, buttocks, hands or feet. For second degree burns, according to the Mayo Clinic, if it is no larger than 3 inches in diameter, it should be treated as a minor burn. If it is larger or affects any of the previously mentioned areas, medical help should be acquired immediately.
Minor burns can be treated by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, by being held under cool running water for fifteen minutes and by covering the burn with loosely-wrapped gauze. Minor burns usually heal on their own.
If a person is suffering from a major burn, while waiting for emergency help they should elevate the burned body parts, cover them with a moist towel or bandage and avoid immersing a large burn in water.
Allegheny Medical’s Minor Emergency Medical Care is a multi-specialty, walk-in health care facility offering medical treatment for minor burns, as well as other illnesses and injury. If you or a loved one need emergency treatment in the Pittsburgh area, please call (412) 494-4550.
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