How do you tell if a burn is 1st or 2nd degree?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

To determine whether a burn is first or second degree, there are a few key indicators to look for. It’s important to note that I am not a doctor, but I can provide some general information based on my understanding.

1. Pain: Both first and second-degree burns typically cause pain. However, second-degree burns may be more severe and cause intense pain, especially when pressure is applied or the affected area is touched.

2. Redness: Redness is a common symptom of both first and second-degree burns. In first-degree burns, the redness is usually limited to the burned area. In contrast, second-degree burns may have a larger area of redness surrounding the burn site.

3. Swelling: Swelling can occur in both first and second-degree burns. However, second-degree burns often result in more significant swelling due to the deeper tissue damage.

4. Blisters: Blisters are a distinguishing factor of second-degree burns. These fluid-filled sacs typically develop within a few hours after the injury. First-degree burns usually do not form blisters.

5. Skin texture: First-degree burns generally result in dry and mildly inflamed skin. Second-degree burns, on the other hand, may exhibit a moist or wet appearance due to the presence of blisters or weeping of fluid.

6. Sensitivity to touch: Second-degree burns are usually more sensitive to touch compared to first-degree burns. Lightly touching the burn area may elicit more pain or discomfort in second-degree burns.

It’s important to seek medical attention if you are unsure about the severity of a burn. A healthcare professional will be able to accurately assess the burn and provide appropriate treatment. Remember, this information is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

In my personal experience, I have encountered first-degree burns from accidentally touching a hot pan or a curling iron. These burns were painful, but the skin appeared red and mildly inflamed. Applying a cool compress and keeping the area clean helped soothe the pain and promote healing. I have not personally experienced second-degree burns, but I am aware of their more severe symptoms such as blistering and intense pain.

Correctly identifying the degree of a burn can help determine the appropriate course of action for treatment and recovery.