Navigate Up

‚ÄčLearn About Burns

Burn Injury Facts

  • Each year, 40,000 Americans are hospitalized for burn injuries.
  • Almost half of all burns happen at home.
  • Scald injuries from hot liquids are the leading cause of burns among young children .
  • Burn injuries can happen in seconds, but their effects can last a lifetime.

What Is a Burn?

A burn is an injury from heat, cold, chemicals, radiation, or electricity. Burns can be minor or very serious, depending on what part and how much of the body is affected.

Burns can affect different layers of the skin:

  • First-degree burns: The top (epidermis) layer of skin turns red/pink and is mildly painful. Some swelling may occur, but no blisters form.
  • Second-degree burns: The top and middle (dermis) layers of skin are injured, causing blisters, pain, and swelling. The blisters may break, and the skin underneath will be red/pink and wet.
  • Third-degree burns: All skin layers are destroyed, and the skin becomes white, dry, and painless.

How to Treat a Burn

Burns require fast medical attention. However, you can follow the steps below to help until medical attention is available.

  • Drop and Roll: Drop and roll to extinguish flames, if clothing is on fire. (For scalds, immediately remove hot, wet clothing.)
  • Stop the Burning Process: Cool burned areas initially with water, then cover with clean dry gauze or sheets. Do not apply ice as this will constrict blood flow to the burn area and can extend the depth of injury as well as contribute to hypothermia.
  • Remove Burned Clothing: Lay the person flat: Remove non-sticking clothing. Loosen or remove tight clothing, jewelry, or boots before swelling occurs.
  • Cover the Burn: After cooling the burn with water, apply a clean dry dressing to the burned area. Cover the person to stay warm.
  • Get Medical Help: Get the person to a hospital. Never underestimate the seriousness of a burn.
  • Don't Use Ointments: Do not apply ointments, sprays, first aid creams, or butter to a burn.

Source: The Burn Foundation

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com