How to Treat a Burn – A Comprehensive Guide

Welcome Challenger! Let’s Learn How to Treat a Burn

Firstly, let us begin by acknowledging the difficulties encountered by anyone suffering from burns. Many factors can lead to a burn such as hot liquids, fire, objects, and chemicals. The resulting pain may be severe, and without proper treatment, the burn may take a longer time to heal. It is essential that anyone who has a burn knows how to manage and treat it effectively. This guide will provide you with all the necessary information on how to care for a burn and ensure proper healing.

The Different Types of Burns

Burns can be grouped into three types: first, second, and third-degree burns. Knowing how to recognize each burn type can influence the appropriate treatment to be given.

Burn Type Severity Description
First-Degree Burn Mild Affects outer layer of skin
Second-Degree Burn Moderate to Severe Affects the outer and underlying layer of skin
Third-Degree Burn Severe Affects all skin layers

How to Treat First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns are mild, and the skin turns red without blisters forming. This type of burn is treatable at home using some remedial measures. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to treat first-degree burns:

Cool the Burn Area

Hold the affected area under cold running water to cool it down. This helps to reduce swelling, pain, and further tissue damage. You can equally use a cold compress or a clean, cold, damp cloth to cool the area.

Apply Ointment or Cream

Apply an ointment or cream to the affected area after it has cooled. This helps to keep the area moisturized and prevent the skin from drying out.

Dress the Burn

Cover the burnt area with a sterile gauze or dressing to prevent dirt and bacteria from entering the wound. This dressing must be changed regularly.

Take Over-the-counter Pain Relief Medications

You may take painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain.

How to Treat Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns are more severe and require acute medical attention. This type of burn affects the outer and underlying layer of skin, the skin appears swollen, blister, and may cause pain. Below are some of the steps to be taken in treating second-degree burns:

Call for Medical Assistance

If the burn covers a significant part of your body, you should call for medical assistance immediately.

Cool the Burn Area

Hold the affected area under cool, running water for at least 20 minutes, or until the pain subsides. Do not put ice or anything frozen on the burnt area.

Remove Constricting Materials

If the burn occurs on an extremity or constricted area such as the fingers, earrings, or bands, remove the items immediately.

Apply Lubricant Dressings

The most recommended dressing for second-degree burns is a specialized dressing which is designed for burns. These dressings inhibit infections and promote healing.

Take Pain Relief Medication

Take over-the-counter pain relief medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce pain and discomfort. Avoid aspirin for anyone under the age of 18.

How to Treat Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns are severe and require immediate medical attention. Third-degree burns result in blackened, white or brown areas, and the skin may appear charred in some cases. This type of burn will not cause pain because the nerves are damaged.

Call for Medical Assistance

In cases of third-degree burns, call for emergency medical assistance immediately.

Cool the Burn Area

You should not cool third-degree burns unless the burns are the size of a palm or smaller. Cooling the burn area may lead to a drop in body temperature, which could be dangerous.

Cover the Burnt Area with a Dry, Clean Cloth

Cover the area with a clean and dry cloth until emergency medical help arrives.

Do Not Apply Any Creams, Ointments, or Lotions

Do not apply creams or lotions to the burn as these may trap the heat and prevent healing.


What is the first thing to do when you get a burn?

The first thing to do when you get a burn is to cool the affected area with cool water or a cool, damp cloth.

How long should I cool a burn?

Cool the burn area for at least 20 minutes to reduce swelling, pain, and further damage.

Can I put butter on a burn?

No, do not put butter on a burn as it will trap the heat and prevent healing.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide on a burn?

No, do not apply hydrogen peroxide on a burn as it can delay the healing process.

Should I apply ice to a burnt area?

Avoid applying ice directly to a burnt area as it may damage your skin.

When should I go to the hospital for a burn?

You should go to the hospital if the burnt area is larger than the size of your palm, burns through the skin, or appears charred, or when in excruciating pain.

Can I pop the blisters from a burn?

No, do not pop blisters as it may lead to infection or scarring.

Should I take over-the-counter pain medication?

You may take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain. Avoid aspirin for anyone under the age of 18.

What do I do if the dressing gets wet?

If the dressing gets wet, remove it and replace it with a clean and dry dressing.

How long does it take for a burn to heal?

The healing time of a burn depends on the severity of the burn. A minor first-degree burn may heal within a week, while a severe third-degree burn may take a few months to heal.

Can I go swimming if I have a burn?

Avoid swimming in a pool or any other bodies of water if you have an open burn wound.

When is it safe to remove a dressing from a burn?

It is safe to remove a dressing from a burn once the skin has fully healed.

Can I resume regular activities after a burn?

You may resume regular activities once your burn has healed and the skin has fully recovered.


In conclusion, knowing how to treat a burn is essential for anyone, and it helps to reduce pain, prevent further tissue damage, and promote faster healing. Always treat burns with the appropriate methods, and consult a medical professional when necessary. Remember to follow the proper precautions to avoid burns in the first place. Stay safe!


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not replace a physician’s consultation. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any medical-related questions. The authors of this article shall not be held liable in any way for any use of the information contained herein.