Burns are classified as first degree, second degree and third degree, depending on the extent of damage to the body tissue. Knowing how severe a burn is will help you determine what kind of care is needed.
A first-degree burn is the least serious and impacts only the outer layer of skin. A minor burn may happen by accidentally touching the stove or a curling iron. This can cause the skin to turn red and swell, and may be painful. First-degree burns are considered a minor burn, unless it involves a significant portion of the face, hands, feet, groin, buttocks or a major joint, which then requires immediate medical attention.
A second-degree burn is more serious and happens when the first and second layer of skin has been burned. Common symptoms include blisters on the skin, intense reddening and severe pain and swelling. A second-degree burn may be treated as a minor burn if it’s smaller than three inches in diameter. Minor burns can be treated with cooling the burned area and covering it with sterile gauze. A topical cream, such as silver sulfadiazine, may be used to treat minor burns. This can provide pain relief as well as works to stop the growth of bacteria to avoid infection. If the burned area is larger than three inches or involves a significant portion of the face, hands, feet, groin, buttocks or a major joint, it should be treated as a major burn and requires emergency medical attention.