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Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

1325 S Cliff Avenue
P.O. Box 5045
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5045
605-322-8000

Burn Prevention & Safety

We believe prevention is the best medicine for burn injuries of any type. Being aware of the types of burns and how they occur can help prevent serious injuries.

About Burns

Burns are caused by many sources such as ovens, fires, electricity and chemicals. While most burns are classified by three degrees of seriousness, the best treatment and care depends on the source and extent of the burn.

First Degree Burn (superficial partial thickness burn)
Involves the top layer of the skin (epidermis)
Skin is pink or light red in appearance
No blisters but painful
Heals in 3-7 days
Example: typical sunburn
Second Degree Burn (partial thickness burn)
Can be superficial or deep
Involves all of the epidermis and dermis
Appearance: Skin is red and painful
Example: blisters with edema
Third Degree Burn (full thickness burn)
Involves all layers of skin to the fat
Appearance: dry and leathery - waxy white, black, brown or cherry red color
Painless but frequently requires skin grafting

General Prevention and Treatment of Burns

You should immediately seek medical treatment if you have suffered from a second or third degree burn or even a first degree burn if serious, widespread or not healing properly. Use these tips to treat or slow burn injuries.

  • Stop, drop and roll immediately if on fire
  • Cool the burned area immediately with cool water - especially for a chemical burn
  • Remove burned clothes, jewelry, etc.
  • Cover the burn with clean and dry dressings
  • Do not use ointments, spray, creams or butter on the burn(s)
  • Get medical attention right away!

While these tips should help prevent or heal some burns, you should always seek medical attention for anything more serious than a very minor burn.

Common Burn Myths

False information about treating burns is often thrown around as fact. We would like to cool off some of the most common burn myths!

The Myth True? The Real Truth
Put ice on burns NO! Using ice on burns can cause more skin damage. Use only cool or room temp water on burned skin to cool the burn quickly!
Break burn blisters NO! Breaking blisters can allow germs to get into the wound
Use butter or creams NO! Anything greasy traps heat and can make a burn worse
Call a doctor quickly YES! Any burn beyond a small, minor, fairly painless top surface burn should be seen by a doctor - Always seek medical assistance in these cases: any blisters with fluid, burns bigger than a silver dollar, burns on infants/young children, burns on people with conditions that can complicate healing, burns on the mentally or physically impaired, burns from electricity, smoke or fumes.

Burn Safety Archives

You can also browse our Burn Safety Archives to find more information on how to prevent and treat burn injuries.