Most minor burns can be cared for at home without requiring a trip to the emergency room.
Each year, more than 500,000 people seek help for minor household burns, the U.S. National Institutes of Health says.
The severity of a burn depends on the area it covers and how deep the damage goes. First-degree burns affect only the thin top layer of skin. Second-degree burns include the thick lower layer of skin. A third-degree burn is the most serious; it penetrates the entire depth of skin, permanently destroying it and the tissue that’s underneath.
See a doctor if the burn is dark red and looks glossy and blistery. These are signs of a second-degree burn. Get immediate treatment if the skin is dry and leathery, with white, brown or black patches. These are signs of third-degree burn.
To treat minor burns, the NIH suggests:
- Immerse the area in fresh, cool water, or apply a cool compress for 10 minutes.
- Dry the area with a clean cloth and cover with sterile gauze or a non-adhesive bandage.
- Don’t apply butter, which could trigger an infection.
- Don’t break or pop blisters.
- OTC pain medication may be used to help reduce inflammation and pain.