A burn occurs when heat or a caustic (corrosive) substance damages your body’s tissues. There are three types of burns:
- First-degree burn damages only the top layer of skin. These are minor burns.
- Second-degree burn damages the top layer and some underlying layers of skin.
- Third-degree burn damages all layers of skin and the underlying fat, muscle, or bone.
A third-degree burn is a medical emergency that can be treated with care and expertise at Dignity Health. Go to your nearest emergency department
or call 911
. You should also seek medical attention (same day or urgent care) for first- or second-degree burns if the burn is larger than two to three inches or if the burn is on your face, scalp, genitals, hands, feet, or major joints.
At Dignity Health, our highly trained emergency doctors offer treatment for severe burns in Sacramento and the surrounding areas. Find a Dignity Health ER near you for quick, reliable care.
Symptoms of Burns
Symptoms depend on the type of burn:
- First-degree burn: Redness, pain, and minor swelling
- Second-degree burn: Redness or splotchy skin, severe pain, significant swelling, and blisters
- Third-degree burn: White or charred black skin, dry or waxy appearance to the skin, and little to no pain as the nerves have also been damaged. The combination of tissue damage and fluid loss can be devastating. Shock and death can result from third degree burns.
If you are in doubt about the degree of your burn, see a doctor at Dignity Health. You should also consult a doctor if the burn shows signs of infection, such as oozing or increased pain, redness, or swelling.
Trusted Severe Burn Treatment at Dignity Health
Burn treatment depends on the degree of the burn.
- Soak or run the burn under cool (not cold) water for five to 10 minutes. Do not use ice.
- Apply aloe vera or antibiotic cream and wrap with dry gauze.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers, if necessary.
- Follow the treatment for first degree burns: cool water, aloe vera, antibiotic cream, and dry gauze.
- Remove jewelry or other tight items before swelling occurs.
- Do not break blisters. If blisters burst on their own, gently wash them, and apply antibiotic cream and a special wound dressing (for example, the brand Telfa) that won’t stick to the surface of the blister. Cover the dressing with clean gauze.
- Call 911 or go immediately to the nearest hospital.
- Do not remove clothing stuck to the burn.
- Do not soak the burned area in water.
- Cover the burn with a cool clean cloth or bandage.
- Keep the burn raise above the level of the heart.
Seek medical care if you are unsure of treating a burn or if you experience new or worsening symptoms.
Dignity Health provides 24/7 emergency services for severe burns in the Sacramento region.