Burns: Partial Thickness(Second Degree) in Athens, Georgia

Athens, GA Burns

What is a partial-thickness burn?

Partial-thickness burns are more serious than superficial (first-degree) burns because a deeper layer of skin is burned. They can become infected more easily. Also, if the burn affects more than 10% of your body, you may go into shock because you can lose a lot of fluid from the burned area.

Partial-thickness burns affect a deeper layer of skin, but they do not hurt muscle or bone. They are also sometimes called second-degree burns.

For all partial-thickness burns more than 2 to 3 inches wide, you should come to Reddy Urgent Care for treatment. Smaller burns can usually be treated at home.

What causes a partial-thickness burn?

  • overexposure to the sun
  • contact with a hot object, such as an iron or skillet
  • contact with hot liquids or steam
  • exposure to flames
  • burning gasoline or kerosene
  • contact with harsh chemicals
  • contact with electricity.

What are the symptoms?

The skin is bright red and has 1 or more blisters. The blisters usually turn white. The blisters may break open. They may leak fluid, making the skin look wet. The area may also look blotchy, with some areas redder than others. The burn may be very painful and there may be some swelling. With larger burns, you may have nausea or headache.

How is it treated?

The goals of treatment for partial-thickness burns are easing the pain and preventing infection.
For burns with closed blisters:

  • Flush the burn with cool running water or apply cold moist cloths until the pain lessens. Do not use ice or ice water, which can cause more damage to the skin.
  • Remove jewelry or tight clothing from the burned area right away before the skin begins to swell. If you cannot do this, emergency rooms have special tools for removing jewelry or clothing.
  • Try not to break the blisters. If the blisters break, it’s easier for the burn to get infected.

For burns with open blisters:

  • Do not remove clothing if it is stuck to the burn.
  • Run cool water over the burn unless the burn is several inches in size. Running water over a large burn might increase the risk of shock.

For chemical burns, follow these first-aid steps while making sure to avoid more contact with the chemical:

  • Immediately remove any clothing and jewelry on which the chemical has spilled.
  • Flush liquid chemicals from the skin thoroughly with running water for at least 15 minutes. Be sure to avoid splashing the chemical in your eyes. After flushing, call the Poison Control Center for advice about the specific chemical that burned you, or have someone else call while you are rinsing off the chemical. It helps to have the chemical container with you when you make the call to make sure you give the correct name for the chemical.
  • Brush dry chemicals off the skin if large amounts of water are not available. Small amounts of water will activate some chemicals, such as lime, and cause more damage, so keep dry chemicals dry unless very large amounts of water are available. Be careful not to get any chemicals in the eyes.
  • Don’t try to neutralize a chemical. For example, putting an alkali chemical onto skin that has been exposed to an acid will often produce a large amount of heat and may increase the burning.
  • Once all of the chemical has been removed, cover the burn with a sterile or clean, loose, dry bandage and come to Reddy Urgent Care.

For electrical burns:

  • All electrical burns must be examined promptly at a Reddy Urgent Care. An electrical burn may seem to have caused just minor damage, but it can go deep into tissues under the skin. The damage may not be obvious for several hours or even until the next day. Delayed treatment can cause more damage.
  • Cover the area of the burn with a dry, nonfluffy, loose bandage. Do not apply any ointments or other substances to the burned area.

For all partial-thickness burns:

You don’t need to cover the burn or blisters unless clothing or something else is rubbing against them. If you need to cover blisters, put on a clean, dry, loose bandage. Be sure that the tape or adhesive does not touch the burn. Avoid wearing clothes or shoes or doing activities that rub or irritate the blisters until they have healed. Do not wrap tape completely around a hand, arm, foot, or leg. This could interfere with the blood supply if there is more swelling after you put the tape on.

  • Do not put grease, petroleum jelly, butter, or home remedies on the burn because they can make it hard for the burn to heal properly and may increase the risk of infection. Do not put any ointment on the burn unless you are instructed to do so by your healthcare provider.
  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation, or take acetaminophen to relieve pain.
  • Keep burned arms or legs propped up higher than your heart as much as possible for the first day or two. This will help reduce pain and swelling.

Come to Reddy Urgent Care right away for burns that are more than 2 to 3 inches wide, especially if they are on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a big joint, like your knee or shoulder. Medical care may include:

  • Extra fluids to replace the fluid your body is losing through the burned area. Your healthcare provider may give you fluids intravenously (through a tube into your vein).
  • Antibiotics because the burned skin can no longer protect your body from infection by bacteria that may get on your skin.
  • Lightly bandaging the burned area with an antibacterial dressing or leaving it unbandaged, depending on the size of the burn and where it is.
  • Medicine prescribed to help with the pain.
  • A tetanus shot to prevent tetanus infection.
  • Later, a skin graft to lessen scarring may be necessary

How do I keep taking care of a burn?

  • When you clean the burned area, wash it gently with mild soap and warm water. Do not use deodorant soap.
  • Check for any changes or signs of infection, like pus, swelling, or increased redness.
  • If your provider recommended using an antibiotic ointment, use a clean cotton swab to put a thin layer of the ointment on the burn. Do not touch the tube of antibiotic cream to the burned area. If you need more cream or ointment, use a new cotton swab.
  • If you need to cover the burn, cover it with a sterile nonstick bandage.


  • Protect the burn from pressure and friction.
  • Do not bump the burned area. Try to use it less than you normally would. This can help it heal.
  • Drink enough water or juice to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid exposure to sun and to extreme hot and cold temperatures.

Come to Reddy Urgent Care if your burn is not getting better after 2 to 3 days or you have any of the following:

  • fever over 101.5°F (38.6°C)
  • worsening redness of the skin
  • a lot more swelling of the burned area
  • pain that is getting worse
  • pus-like drainage from the burned area
  • a blister filled with greenish or brownish fluid or one that becomes hot again or turns red.

How long will the effects last?

Usually, partial-thickness burns heal in 10 days to 2 weeks. Large burns may take 3 to 4 weeks to heal. There may be little or no scarring if the burn was not too extensive and if infection is prevented. Do remember that blistering sunburns can cause skin cancer (melanoma) later in life.

How can I help prevent burns?

  • Turn your water heater setting down to 120°F (49°C).
  • Keep pot handles turned away from the stove front.
  • When you are outdoors, always use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater and wear protective clothing. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It’s best to put the sunscreen on your skin 15-30 minutes before you go out into the sun. Reapply at least every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating. Avoid being out in the sun for a long time, especially in the late morning and early afternoon.





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