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Burns

Types, Symptoms, Causes, Questions & Related Topics

Every year more than 3 million Americans seek treatment for burns. Whether you’re cooking dinner on the stove, curling your hair to get ready for a night out, or lighting a candle, doing everyday tasks come with the risk of getting burned. Heat burns – burns caused by fire, steam, hot liquids, or hot objects – are the most widely known type of burn. However, there are many different types of burns.

Types of Burns:

  • Electrical burns, which are caused by contact with an electrical source or lightning
  • Friction burns (also known as “road rash”), which are caused by contact with hard surfaces such as roads, carpets, and gym floors
  • Cold burns, which are caused by contact with extreme cold, wet, or windy conditions
  • Chemical burns, which are caused by contact with certain household or industrial chemicals
  • Radiation burns, which are caused by exposure to the sun (sunburns), tanning booths, X-rays, and radiation therapy

All types of burns are broken down into different levels categorized from minor to severe:

  • First-degree burns: These types of burn affect only the outer layer of the skin and can typically be treated with at-home remedies.
  • Second-degree burns: Second-degree burns can be treated as minor burn if they’re smaller than three inches in diameter or if it doesn’t cover a major joint, your hands, feet, or face. These types of burns affect the inner and outer layer of skin and typically cause the skin to blister.
  • Third-degree burns: These types of burns always require professional medical attention, as they affect all layers of the skin and underlying tissue.
  • Fourth-degree burns: The most severe type of burn, fourth-degree burns affect all layers of the skin and underlying ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels and bones.

If you have a minor burn, home treatment options include:

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  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil®), acetaminophen (Tylenol®), or naproxen sodium (Aleve)
  • Holding the affected area under cool running water until the pain passes to help cool the burn
  • Applying aloe vera lotion to the affected area to moisturize the burn and keep it cool

Urgent care centers are able to treat minor burns (first-degree or small second-degree burns), while third-degree and fourth-degree burns are better treated at the emergency room.