Getting burns can be painful, but for many people, most burns can be taken care of at home with first aid care. But some burns can be quite serious and require immediate medical attention. Whether you’ve gotten burned while on the job, cooking in the kitchen, or stayed out in the sun too long, it is important to recognize when your burns need medical attention, as they can develop serious consequences if left untreated. At UP Clinics, our physicians are able to immediately spot the difference and help you get the treatment you need. Today, we’re going to look into some of the warning signs for severe burns.
The Levels For Mild To Severe Burns
As a general rule, the bigger the burn, the more serious the burn can be. When determining burns and their degree of severity, physicians will normally reference the burn’s size to the total body surface area of the patient’s skin. For reference, the size of your palm equals one percent of the total skin surface. Any burn size that is over three percent, or three palm sizes to the person’s total body surface area, needs medical attention. For children, any burn greater than two percent of the child’s total body surface area will also need medical attention.
Another reference point for diagnosing burns is the deepness of the burn. This refers to how deep the burn has penetrated the tissue, and burns typically have degrees of levels that indicate how serious the burn is and whether or not the patient would need medical attention. These levels include:
- First Degree Burns: First-degree burns only affect the outer layer of the skin, causing pain, swelling, and redness. When these burns develop, no blisters form as an indicator, and these burns can be treated with petroleum jelly, cooling items, and covering burn with bandages or clothing.
- Second Degree Burns: Second-degree burns often affect the outer and underlying layers of the skin and are accompanied by blisters alongside pain, redness, and swelling. These burns are considered minor if the burn is below one palm size and is considered a major burn if it’s beyond one palm size and is located along the face, feet, hands, or major joint area. Medical attention is recommended for these types of burns.
- Third Degree Burns: Third-degree burns are full-thickness burns that impact the deepest layers of the skin, creating white or black burned skin and numbness. When it destroys these layers, medical attention is needed right away.
- Fourth Degree Burns: By going through the layers of skin and underlying tissues and bone, fourth-degree burns cause numbness due to the severity of the burn and the severed nerve endings. Fourth-degree burns need medical attention from emergency care.
If you don’t know whether or not the burn is severe, it’s important to seek medical attention for a burn if the burn is considered second degree or higher and exhibits symptoms such as signs of infection, burns worsening over time, the burn occurs near a vital area, or if the burn is larger than the size of your palm. Seek urgent care if you have burns that need attention and other non-emergency conditions.