This article covers how burns are caused, the differences between the various degrees of burns, and what kind of burn treatment you should seek if you have been burned.


There are a variety of circumstances that can cause a burn. When a person initially receives a burn, they must determine how serious it is. If the burn is deep or large, a person would want to seek aid immediately. Other burns, however, are minor enough that they can be treated at home. 

What Causes a Burn? 

The circumstances that cause a burn can vary, but the most common burn is a thermal burn. This burn occurs when a person comes into contact with scalding liquids, steam, hot metal, or flames. Thermal burns can also occur during situations such as house fires and vehicular accidents.

While thermal burns are the most common burn, there are other ways to receive a burn. A person involved with an electrical malfunction or chemical exposure may find themselves moderately burned. Too much sun can even cause a burn. Most sunburns only cause 1st degree burns, but extreme overexposure to the sun can cause 2nd and 3rd degree burns. 

How to Measure the Severity of a Burn 

The severity of a burn depends on how long a person has been exposed to the hot material they have come into contact with. It also depends on what that material is, and how hot it is. To better understand how to rate a burn, one must first understand the differences between each degree.

A 1st degree burn is the least severe of the categories of burns. It only affects the epidermis (the outer layer of skin). With a 1st degree burn, you will experience minor pain, swelling, and redness. 

A 2nd degree burn is a moderate burn that affects the epidermis and the dermis (the lower layer of skin). This burn can cause blisters, swelling, and a deep redness. The most telltale sign of a 2nd degree burn is how the skin appears. If the skin is white, blotchy, wet, and shiny, the burn is most likely to the 2nd degree. 

A 3rd degree burn is a severe burn that will not only affect the dermis, but it can reach the tissue below the dermis. A third degree burn can appear in various types of ways depending on how it was caused. This means the burned skin can look leathery, white, blackened, or charred. Surprisingly, with severe burns, patients will feel no pain. This is because their nerve endings have been destroyed by their burn. 

Self-Treatment of Burns

After receiving a burn, the victim should immediately have cool water poured over the burns to cool them down. It is important that this water is not cold, as cold water could cause frostbite. It is also important to make sure there are no objects touching the burn, like clothing. After about a half-hour, the wound should be sanitized and lightly wrapped. 

If a first or second degree burn is minor, a person may be able to conduct their own burn treatment at home. The biggest risk of handling a burn at home is infection, so a person would want to ensure they are using an antibiotic ointment directly on their burn daily. It is also wise to carefully study outside remedies for minor burns. Some substances, like honey and aloe vera, are beneficial to a wound due to their antibacterial properties. Other substances, however, could retain the heat of the burn and allow bacteria to grow. 

When to Seek Help 

An individual who has suffered from a 3rd degree burn should seek help immediately. Unlike a 1st or 2nd degree burn, there is no room for self-treatment. At the same time, a 1st or 2nd degree burn that extends past three inches should also be seen.

Burns are usually unexpected, accidental, and painful. Instead of waiting hours or days to be seen, you could be seen immediately by BASS Primary Care. Come to us for quick relief and skilled physicians who are ready to help.

At BASS Primary Care Walk-in Clinic, it's Your Health, Your Schedule.