by April Reinhardt
(last updated September 5, 2008)
Moderate and critical second-degree burns should always be treated by a doctor, since they involve deeper tissue damage than first-degree burns. Caused most often by flames, chemicals, hot liquids, overexposure to extreme cold, or severe sun burns, second-degree burns are extremely painful. Burns caused by steam or hot liquids are called scalds, and burns caused by heat are called thermal burns.
You can recognize a type of burn by the way it looks, the amount of tissue damaged, and what caused it. Some indicators of second-degree burns are:
While you can treat minor second-degree burns at home, use good judgment in determining their severity. If you scald your hand with steam while cooking pasta, the burn involves a relatively small portion of skin. And although that scald is considered a second-degree burn, it is minor, and you can treat second-degree burns at home by following these steps:
If liquid chemicals are the cause of the second-degree burn, flush the skin with cool running water for at least twenty minutes. With dry chemicals, use large amounts of water when flushing the chemicals from the skin since using small amounts of water can actually cause the chemicals to activate.
With second-degree burns, the goal of treatment is to stop the burn process, reduce pain, stop the victim from going into shock, and prevent infection. If you cannot attain those goals at home, then seek immediate medical treatment at an emergency room.
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