Every 65 seconds, the American Burn Association estimates someone in the U.S. is burned. Children 15 or younger account for 26% of burn injuries. Scald burns are one of the most common, but motor vehicle accidents, electrical burns from electrical wires, fireworks, and gasoline fires are other common causes of burns.

Burns can be minor with just a bit of redness and a lingering stinging sensation that worsens in warm or hot water. There are also second and third-degree burns that are serious and require medical attention. Here are some of the top rules on what you should and shouldn’t do after getting a burn.

Determine the Severity

How severe is the burn? If the skin is blistered or charred, seek urgent care as quickly as you can. If you touched a hot pot accidentally, you likely only have a first-degree burn. That’s something you can treat at home.

  • First-Degree Burns: These are superficial burns that only involve the outer layer of skin. It’s going to appear pink or red with no blistering and a dry appearance. It’s painful and feels a lot like a sunburn. Mild sunburn is a first-degree burn.
  • Second-Degree Burns: The epidermis and part of the dermis are damaged. It may appear swollen and there will be some blistering. It’s going to be very red and painful.
  • Third-Degree Burns: These burns are dangerous and require immediate medical attention as the burn goes through the epidermis and dermis, and may damage muscle, tendons, and bones. 

Fourth-Degree Burns: If a third-degree burn extends into the muscles, tendons, and bones, it’s a fourth-degree burn. It’s best to go to the ER. Nerves are destroyed and the skin may appear white or burnt.

The general rule of thumb is to go to urgent care if there is blistering or the burn is on your genitals, hands, feet, or face. A tiny burn on a finger from a baking sheet or pot lid isn’t too concerning, but blisters all over the palm of your hand are. If a second-degree burn covers more than 10% of the body, treatment in a burn center is best. Any third- or fourth-degree burn should be treated in a burn center.

If you’re not sure, Premium UC offers telemedicine visits. Have a doctor look at your burn and provide sound medical advice regarding the burn. It’s better to be cautious and learn it’s not as severe as you think than to stay home and develop an infection.

Don’t Apply Butter or Ice

When you have a burn, you want to cool the skin as quickly as possible without causing more damage. This is why butter and ice are bad ideas.

For years, so many people believed that the best burn treatment was to apply butter to the burn. That’s not the case. Butter is oily and won’t help at all. It could introduce bacteria to the burnt skin and slow the release of heat from the skin.

Ice is also not a good idea. It can cause damage to the skin, especially if you leave it on for too long. The burn has already damaged several layers of the skin, and now you’re adding to the damage. Instead, run cool, not cold, water over the burn or dampen a clean towel and place that over the burn.

If you have burn cream, apply it and cover the area with a sterile bandage or gauze. If you don’t have burn cream but have an aloe vera plant in your home, you can apply aloe to a first-degree burn to soothe the skin. Break off a small portion and squeeze out the serum.

Keep It Covered

After you apply a skin cream, cover the burn. A sterile bandage or gauze helps keep bacteria and germs from getting to the burn. You should keep it covered for at least X days. More severe burns will take longer to heal. It’s essential to listen to your doctor and take care of it following the medical instructions you were given.

Watch for Signs of Infection

Even a minor burn can develop an infection if bacteria get into the skin. If the burn develops pus or becomes redder than it was to start, go to Fresno urgent care. You want to have a doctor diagnose and treat an infection before it spreads to your bloodstream.

Do Take Precautions to Avoid Future Burns

Make sure you try to prevent future burns. Some situations are unavoidable, but general safety precautions can help prevent fires or scald burns.

But, if you burned your hand on potholders that were too thin, it’s time to purchase new ones. If a spark from a campfire or grill hits your clothing, keep farther away when coals or logs are popping and sparking.

If you have small children, turn pot handles away from a counter or stove edge and remove chairs or stools from the kitchen to prevent a child from climbing onto a hot stove. Turn the water heater down so that the water isn’t being heated more than 120ºF. 

When you’re cooking, don’t wear loose-fitting sleeves or shirts. If they accidentally brush up against the burner or open flame, they can catch fire quickly. 

Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off before you go to bed or leave the house. When possible, invest in heaters that automatically shut off if they’re bumped. When you have a heater, keep it away from curtains, floor pillows, pet beds, and furniture.

One of the leading causes of accidental fires is falling asleep with a lit cigarette or joint. Never smoke in bed or on a sofa. It’s better not to smoke at all, but if you’re struggling to break the habit, only smoke when you’re fully awake and alert to avoid dropping it when it’s lit. You should ask a doctor about aids to help you stop smoking. It’s better for your health.

Make sure you use woodstoves, pellet stoves, gas/wood fireplaces, and furnaces/boilers correctly. Have chimneys and vent pipes cleaned and inspected regularly. Don’t risk it. Burns are the only issue you face when your heating appliances aren’t properly cared for. Carbon monoxide poisoning is another risk that can be deadly if you don’t seek emergency care ASAP.

The doctors at Fresno’s Premium Urgent Care offer burn care and a variety of other treatments. Whether you have a serious burn with blistered skin or a chemical burn when using household cleaning products incorrectly, our doctors are ready to see you.

Premium Urgent Care’s Fresno doctors are available every day, including weekends, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The last walk-in appointment is taken at 6:30 p.m. Get seen quickly by completing paperwork online and checking in online before you arrive. 

Remember, if you have an extreme burn, which is generally a third- or fourth-degree burn or second-degree burn covering more than 10% of your body, go straight to the ER. For other burns, come to Fresno’s Premium Urgent Care offices.