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Burns - Degrees, Treatment, When To Go To Hospital

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

All You Need To Know About Burns

All About Burns
All About Burns

All About Burns

Getting burnt can be extremely painful. If you are on holiday and you get burnt, you need to know when you should get medical attention and when and how you can self treat.

There are varying degrees of burns depending on how deep into your skin the burn has penetrated;

First Degree Burns - only the outer layer of skin is damaged and no blistering is present. Often caused by sunburn for example. These can be self-managed using cool water, aftersun cream, moisturising cream and painkillers if required.

Second Degree Burns - Both the outer layer and inner layer of the skin, the dermis, is affected. Initially the skin will appear red and shiny, and then blisters will develop along with pain when touching the affected area. For mild second degree burns, you can self-treat. Cool the area with cool water for 30 minutes, do not apply ice to the area or any greasy substance. Cover with cling film to help trap moisture and protect the burn, and do not pop any blisters that appear.

A deeper partial thickness burn can potentially lead to scaring. If you do not feel any pain to the burnt area, please seek medical advice as this means there is nerve damage.

All About Burns
Diabetic patient with one day old second and third degree burns.

Third Degree Burns - Involves two full layers of skin. Often it does not turn red, but rather yellow, white, brown or even black. Often without pain due to damage of the nerve endings. This degree of burn requires medical attention. Call for help, and meanwhile keep the area under cool water until further assistance arrives.

Fourth Degree Burns - Are potentially life-threatening. Involving all layers of skin, including muscles, tendons and even your bones.

All burns have the possibility to become infected due to the damage of the protective layer your skin provides. Signs of infection include:

1. Fluid or pus leaking from an open area

2. Increasing redness of the surrounding skin, and possibly red tracking marks heading towards your heart.

3. Yellow crusting on the surface

4. The appearance of blisters that have not appeared due to the burn itself.

5. Increasing swelling

6. A fever

Seek medical attention should you experience any of these symptoms.

The general rule on seeking further advice for burns is if the size of the burn is bigger than your hand. Any burn caused by chemical or electrical exposure or burns that cause the skin to turn white or painless. Young children, the elderly and pregnant women are more at risk of complications following a burn, and should seek medical advice.

It is essential to drink plenty after a burn, even a minor one, due to the body's increased demand for fluids. It is also possible for a person to go into shock after suffering from a burn, and any signs of a rapid heart rate, feeling dizzy or faint, or collapse should immediately seek medical help. If a burn has been caused by sun exposure, it is important to watch out for heat stroke. Click here for further information on sun-burn.

Another risk for people who have suffered a burn, is hypothermia. The skins ability to thermo-regulate is compromised after a burn. Keep the patient warm, take them out of the wind and indoors preferably, and cover the wound with cling-film to help. Seek medical attention for any burns on the genitals, hands or face. Smoke inhalation can cause burns to the airway, so it is important to seek medical help if you have been in a smoke filled room.

If you are not close to a medical facility, and have no way to summon assistance do the following;

1. Cool the burn with cool water

2. Remove any clothing or jewellery close to the burn

3. Do not attempt to remove anything that is stuck to the affected skin

5. Cover the burn, preferably with a specialised burns dressing, but cling film is also great.

6. Drink plenty

When people consider burns on holiday, they often think of sunburn. However, other accidents are always possible both at home and when abroad. If staying at a hotel, ensure you are aware of your nearest fire escape. If you are cooking, take extra care with unfamiliar ovens. Check smoke alarms in your room/apartment/flat particularly if staying in an Airbnb for example. Your rented apartment may not be as child safe as your home, check drawers for any accessible matches, lighters etc. Do not use flammable liquids to attempt to start a BBQ and beware of flammable clothing when near a campfire. Some creams used for treatment of eczema and other conditions can contain paraffin which is extremely flammable. I have even heard of a girl attending A&E after suffering facial burns when applying hairspray with a cigarette in her mouth. Do not try a light your alcohol shot and drink whilst still alight.

Finally, my last piece of advice – don’t attempt to light a fart! It’s not big, it’s not clever!

In breaking news, Trump’s personal library has burned down.

The fire consumed both books and in a tragic twist, he hadn’t even finished colouring the second one.

If you have found this article helpful, I would love to hear about it. Drop a comment below and feel free to share the wisdom!

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