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Burns — Soothing the Pain & Treatment

Burns can happen, and do happen, every day. As we live and work and travel, often rushing to stay on schedules, there are many accidents waiting to happen. A burn results in destruction of, or harm to, tissues and can come from multiple sources such as chemicals, sunlight, heat, electricity, radiation, fire, steam, hot water or other liquids, flammable liquids, and various types of gases, etc.

Classifications of Burn Types

Burns are generally classified into three major types. Let's consider the three types.

First-Degree

These types of burns are less severe and generally only cause harm or damage to the outer layer of skin.


Second-Degree

These types of burns are more severe and may damage the protective outer layer of skin as well as the layer underneath.


Third-Degree

These types of burns are the most severe and cause at minimum severe damage or even potential destruction of the deepest layer of skin and attached tissues underneath the skin.

Symptoms and Signs of Burns


The level and severity of a burn will determine the types of symptoms/damage. A minor hot water burn may only cause blistering of the skin's surface layer while a flammable liquid burn could cause destruction of the skin and deep tissue, and require major hospitalization. Some of the kinds of symptoms/damage burns cause are listed below.

  • Swelling
  • Blistering
  • Scarring
  • Shock
  • Infection
  • Death

Treatment Overview for Burns

A treatment plan for any burn will obviously depend on the severity of the burn. A minor household burn may not always need medical attention if it is truly minor. In some minor burn cases home treatment may be sufficient. It is important to note however that even minor first-degree burns may, in some cases, require medical attention from a doctor or emergency room visit. Always err on the side of caution. If you think you might need to see a doctor for your minor burn then do so. Never delay seeking medical attention if there is any question in your mind.

Treatment for Truly Minor First-Degree Burns

If your burn is truly minor and you feel that it can be treated at home then there are a few steps to follow to ensure healing begins quickly. The first step—soak the burn in moderately cold water for a minimum of 5 minutes. The cool water will help to decrease the swelling as it removes heat from the damaged burn area. Step two—apply some type of antibiotic medicated ointment or perhaps a cream that contains aloe vera. Step three—cover the burn area with clean gauze, but do not wrap tightly. Loosely wrapped bandages will allow the area to breathe so healing can begin quicker.

Medications for Minor Burn Pain

There are a variety of common medications for the relief of pain due to minor burns. Consult with your doctor for a recommendation. Some of the most common are as follows:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Naproxen

NOTE: While acetaminophen may be sufficient for relieving some associated pain, ibuprofen and naproxen can also help to reduce swelling.

Medical Attention for Burns

If your burn is more than a minor, small area first-degree burn then it probably warrants medical treatment at your doctor's office, urgent care center, or emergency medical room. Never take a chance with burns, always seek treatment if the burn is more than minor, or even if it is truly minor but covers a larger area than two to three inches. Additionally, even minor burns that are on a joint area; over the knee or shoulder; or on the hands, feet, or genital area all warrant prompt medical treatment by a trained medical professional.

  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA