Burns (1st and 2nd Degree)
To distinguish a minor burn from a serious burn, the first step is to determine the extent of damage to body tissues. The three burn classifications of first-degree burn, second-degree burn and third-degree burn will help you determine emergency care.
The least serious burns are those in which only the outer layer of skin is burned, but not all the way through.
- The skin is usually red
- Often there is swelling
- Pain sometimes is present
Treat a first-degree burn as a minor burn unless it involves substantial portions of the hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or a major joint, which requires emergency medical attention.
- When the first layer of skin has been burned through and the second layer of skin (dermis) also is burned, the injury is called a second-degree burn.
- Blisters develop
- Skin takes on an intensely reddened, splotchy appearance
- There is severe pain and swelling.
If the second-degree burn is no larger than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter, treat it as a minor burn. If the burned area is larger or if the burn is on the hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint, treat it as a major burn and get medical help immediately.