It is important to note that a second degree burn involves the epidermis up to the dermis. In case a second degree burn covers a small area which is less than three inches in diameter, you can provide first aid care at home. When it comes to second degree burns that covers a large area of skin or covers several areas of the body, emergency assistance is required in order to properly treat the burn.
Caring for a second degree burn is possible by enrolling in a first aid class. By taking part in this training, you can properly handle burns until the medical team arrives on the scene.
Steps in managing a second degree burn
- Initially, you have to identify the degree and size of the burn. Always bear in mind that second degree burns can be identified by a burn that has developed blisters and causes a lot of pain. The skin will appear red in color and splotchy as well as swelling of the affected area.
- You have to wash your hands properly before delivering first aid care on the second degree burn. Take note that proper hand washing will prevent exposing the burned area to debris, dirt and bacteria.
- Place the burned area under cool water for 10-15 minutes. Make sure that the area is soaked in cool water or use a cool compress if the affected area is difficult to immerse in flowing water.
- Apply a sterile gauze bandage in a loose manner on the burn. You have to tape the bandage lightly in order to prevent it from adhering on the burned area.
- You can provide the individual with ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen to help ease the pain. All of these medications are readily available over-the-counter at pharmacies and drugstores.
- Leave the burned area for 24 hours prior to changing the dressing or inspecting the wound. The removal of the bandage repeatedly will only uncover the area to further damage and increase the risk for infection.
- The bandage must be changed on a daily basis and check the burned area for any signs of infection. The indications of infection include redness, oozing of pus and swelling. If any of these are observed on the second degree burn, you have to consult a doctor so that the infection can be treated. In case the bandage adheres to the burn, you have to soak it in cool water first in order to easily release it during the removal process.
- The individual should use a sunscreen every time he/she goes outdoors for at least a year after the injury was sustained. Always bear in mind that an area that was previously burned will remain sensitive to sunlight after months even if it has already healed.
Important considerations to bear in mind
Do not attempt to use any cream or ointment on the burn unless prescribed by the doctor. Butter should not be applied on the burned area as well. Take note that ointments, creams and butter can increase the risk for infection in the burned area.
The individual should avoid breaking any blisters that will develop. If the blisters are broken, bacteria will enter into the area beneath the blister.
When it comes to serious burns, it requires immediate medical care. A second degree burn larger than 3 inches in diameter should be assessed and treated at the hospital. For a small second degree burn, it can heal within 10 days up to 3 weeks.