Burns are one of the most common household injuries, especially among children. The term “burn” means more than the burning sensation associated with this injury. Burns are characterized by severe skin damage that causes the affected skin cells to die. Superficial burns can be treated at home. Serious burns and burns in infants require professional attention. 


APPOTEK can help with burns.


Burns and scalds are damage to the skin usually caused by heat. Both are treated in the same way.


A burn is caused by dry heat – by an iron or fire, for example. A scald is caused by something wet, such as hot water or steam.


There are different types of burns classified according to:


  • depth
  • size – if you are an adult you can use the palm of your hand to determine the size of the burn. Your palm, including your fingers, makes up about one percent of your body.
  • where the damage occurs


First degree burn / epidermal injury means that the skin’s top layer is damaged. First degree burns include sunburns.


Second degree burn / epidermal and dermal injury means that the damage goes further down in the skin and you also get blisters. The burnt area will be painful and swollen. You can get second-degree burns when you are scalded by hot water.


Third degree burn / hypodermal injury means that all three layers of skin are damaged. The skin layer consists of epidermis, derma and hypodermis. The skin color can change and become white, brown or black. The skin may also feel more solid than usual. You can get this kind of damage from a fire, scalding hot oil, or contact with a hot object for an extended period of time.


Burns can be very painful and may cause:


  • red or peeling skin
  • blisters
  • swelling
  • white or charred skin


The amount of pain you feel is not always related to how serious the burn is. Even a very serious burn may be relatively painless.


To treat a burn, follow the first aid advice below:


  • Immediately get the person away from the heat source to stop the burning
  • Burning clothing should be extinguished with water, a fire blanket or carpet.
  • If the damage is caused by electricity, turn off the power before providing assistance. 
  • cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes – do not use ice, iced water, or any creams or greasy substances like butter
  • remove any clothing or jewellery that’s near the burnt area of skin, including babies’ nappies. Cut away burnt clothes if necessary but do not move anything that’s stuck to the skin
  • make sure the person keeps warm by using a blanket, for example, but take care not to rub it against the burnt area
  • cover the burn by placing a layer of cling film over it – a clean plastic bag could also be used for burns on your hand
  • use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain
  • if the face or eyes are burnt, sit up as much as possible, rather than lying down – this helps to reduce swelling
  • if it’s an acid of chemical burn, call an ambulance and carefully try to remove the chemical and any contaminated clothing, and rinse the affected area using as much clean water as possible


First degree burns

You can treat superficial burns at home and the injury usually heals within a week. You can treat red skin with a thin layer of ointment, such as petroleum jelly or aloe vera. DO NOT use cream, lotion, oil, cortisone, butter, or egg white. Creams or ointments containing cortisone can also relieve pain in irritated skin. You can purchase these without a prescription at pharmacies. If a child under two has been burnt, you should always get a doctor’s prescription before using cortisone.


If you have pain, non-prescription painkillers can help.


Second degree burns

This burn causes blisters that can break open. Protect blisters that haven’t burst with a compresses – gauze bandages or a clean wet cloth placed over the burn area. You can apply the compress in 5- to 15-minute intervals to help relieve pain and swelling.


If there is fluid, you should change the compress when it becomes soaked. It is easier to change the compress if you soak it with water.


Keep burns clean to prevent infection. Gently wash the wound with soap and water before applying a new compress.


You can relieve the pain in blisters with analgesic ointment. But you should not use this on children under 1.5 years. Always read the instructions carefully before using any ointment on damaged skin.
Non-prescription painkillers can also help.


Protect the burn from the sun until it has healed.


Third degree burns

These burns need to be reviewed by healthcare professionals. You should protect the burn with a clean towel when you go to a health center or hospital.

When to consult a doctor

You can usually treat superficial burns at home. But you should get emergency medical attention if you have a burn:


  • on the face
  • on hands or feet
  • on genitals
  • caused by electricity
  • caused by chemicals
  • over the joints such as elbows, shoulders and knees.
  • if skin near the injury becomes red and warm
  • if you have fever or if the wound starts to get sticky and fluid
  • if the injury has not healed after two weeks
  • if painkillers don’t help or if the pain increases


Always get medical attention if a baby has burns.

How APPOTEK can help

APPOTEK can help you with superficial burns. In the video consultation, a nurse or doctor will make an assessment based on your symptoms. You may then be prescribed treatment or referred for further examination. If the burns are serious or if a child or baby is affected, you should go to the emergency room.


Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.