CPR First Aid

How to Treat Different Types of Burns

How to Treat Different Types of Burns

Burns are painful and may lead to permanent damage to the skin. Experiencing the latter may be avoided if burns are treated with an immediate first aid response. Unfortunately, many people are not knowledgeable about the first aid treatment for burns. If you’re one of them, read along and learn about these first aid steps.

What are burns?

Burns is considered an injury. According to the World Health Organisation, it’s an injury to the skin and/or organic tissue that is caused by heat, radiation, radioactivity, electricity, friction, or contact with chemicals.

What are the Different Types of Burns?

Burns are caused by many factors, so it would be helpful if the reason for a burn incident is determined. This helps the first aider conduct the correct first aid management immediately since each type of burn needs a different first aid treatment. The different types of burns are:

  • Thermal burns – burns caused by external heat sources such as hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, and flames. When the skin comes in contact with these, its temperature rises and causes the death or charring of tissue.
  • Radiation burns – burns caused by prolonged exposure to sources of radiation like the ultraviolet rays of the sun and x-ray.
  • Chemical burns – skin and/or eye burns caused by strong acids, alkalies, detergents, or solvents.
  • Electrical burns – burns caused by electric current, either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).

What are the Different Levels of Burns?

Burns are also classified based on the severity of damage to the skin. These are called burn levels.

First-degree Burn

First-degree burn (superficial) – in this burn level, only the outer layer of the skin is affected. This layer is called the epidermis. If burned, the epidermis will look red and dry. There is no blister but the burned area will feel painful and may look lighter or darker after the incident. Long-term damage to the tissue is also rare. Some examples of a first-degree burn are:

  • Mild sunburn
  • Contact with a hot stove
  • Contact with a hot liquid

Second-degree Burn

Second-degree burn (partial thickness) – in this burn level, both the outer and part of the lower layer of the skin are affected. This lower layer is called the dermis. If burned, both the epidermis and dermis will look red and blistered. The burned area will also feel swollen and painful. Minimal scarring may appear as long-term damage. Some examples of a second-degree burn are:

  • Scalding with hot water
  • Candle wax burn
  • Burn from household appliance
  • Hot oil burn

Third-degree Burn

Third-degree burn (full thickness) – in this burn level, both the epidermis and dermis are affected and destroyed. The innermost layer of the skin may also be involved. This layer is called the subcutaneous tissue. The epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue may all look white or blackened and charred. The long-term effects of this burn level may be permanent disfigurement, scarring, disabilities, and impairments. Some examples of a third-degree burn are:

  • Burn from flames of fire
  • Contact with an electrical source
  • Contact with a chemical source

Fourth-degree Burn

Fourth-degree burn – in this burn level, all layers of the skin, the underlying tissue, and the deeper tissue are affected. The deeper tissue involves the muscle and the bone. The burned area may look charred and feel painless as the nerve endings are also destroyed. Long-term effects mentioned in the third-degree burn may be experienced. There may also be recurrent infections and permanent damage to the muscle and tissue. Some examples of fourth-degree burns are:

  • Contact with a hot stove or oven
  • Exposure to open flames like fireplace and campfire
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Injuries acquired from a building fire

What are the Safety Tips for Burn?

As mentioned above, burns may lead to mild to severe long-term effects. These may be avoided with preventive measures.

Burn Safety Tips at Home

The home is where different appliances are found. These are all important for daily living but may also cause burns. To avoid burns, you may take note of the following:

  • Decrease the water temperature.
  • Avoid being around other people while holding a hot meal, drink, or beverage.
  • Don’t leave a child unattended in a room with appliances such as a stove, fireplace, space heaters, and radiators.
  • Always keep appliances unplugged when not in use.
  • Put ‘hot’ appliances out of reach like the iron.
  • Don’t let a child play with a match or a candle.
  • Remember to put out a candle after using.

Burn Safety Tips for Outdoors

The outdoors is also another place to be cautious with burn accidents. It may be helpful if you remember the following:

  • Don’t leave cooking equipment such as the grills, fire pits, and campfires unattended
  • Don’t let kids play with fireworks or sparklers
  • Before sitting in a car that is parked under direct sunlight, cover the seats with a towel and check for hot straps or buckles.

Create a Fire Emergency Plan

The above safety tips may be helpful to avoid burns. Since burns may be caused by getting in contact with a hot source like fire, an emergency plan may be helpful too. Below are the things you can do to achieve this:

  • Install smoke alarms.
  • Learn how to use a fire extinguisher and keep one at home.
  • Learn about the stop-drop-and-roll
  • Practice an evacuation plan.

What is the First Aid Treatment for Burns?

Understanding what burns are and knowing how to avoid them may help you be safe from experiencing its long-term effects. You know when to be cautious and how to prepare for a possible fire accident.

However, just like the other accidents and injuries, burns may still happen. You can’t always control situations, weather, or people. Knowing what to do in these situations may help you save a life or prevent the injury from worsening.

First Aid Treatment for First-Degree Burns

The first aid treatment for first-degree burns are the following:

  1. Cool the burn with running water for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove tight clothing or accessories from the burned area.
  3. Clean broken blisters with water and apply an antibiotic treatment.
  4. Apply lotion to prevent drying.
  5. Bandage the burn.
  6. Take a nonprescription pain reliever if needed.

First Aid Treatment for Second-Degree to Fourth-Degree Burns

Once these major burn levels occur, it is important to call for emergency help. Until then, you may do the following:

  1. If possible, take the person away from the source.
  2. Check if the person is breathing, and perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if necessary.
  3. Remove tight clothing and accessories.
  4. Cover the burn with a clean cloth.
  5. Lift the burned area above heart level if possible.
  6. Watch out for the person as she/he may experience signs of shock. These may be asked from you once emergency help arrives.

Knowing How to Apply First Aid Treatment for Burns

Some steps of the first aid treatment for burns may be understandable and easy to follow. But applying bandages and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are skills acquired from first aid training.

Importance of First Aid Training

First aid training equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge in applying first aid treatment for burns and other emergencies. One is learning how to perform the above-mentioned first aid steps. Others are knowing what should be in a first aid kit, doing the first aid recovery position, knowing what to do when a person is having a heart attack, and more.

Obtaining these by enrolling in accredited first aid courses in Modbury may help you know how to treat burns and save lives. You may then prove yourself a qualified first aider if you earn the first aid certificate.


Burns may be unavoidable injuries as they may occur anytime and anywhere. There are also different types and levels of burns. All of these may lead to mild or severe long-term effects. These effects may be treated or reduced with a first aid response. So, it may be helpful if you know the first aid treatment for burns. Providing first aid treatment requires the appropriate skills and knowledge in doing so. These may be obtained by enrolling in a first aid course.


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