Common Conditions

Signs and Symptoms of a 2nd Degree Burn

Nobody enjoys the feeling of a sudden hot flash of pain against their skin. Even the most severe burns can happen in less than a second. How severe your burn is depends on what has scalded you and how long you were exposed to the cause of the burn. While you may be able to deal with a 1st degree burn on your own, a 2nd degree often requires professional medical attention. Let’s examine what makes a burn a 2nd degree burn. 

Causes of a 2nd Degree Burn

A 2nd degree burn is caused in the same way that most 1st and 3rd degree burns are caused. The 2nd degree burn, however, is more serious than a mild burn and less serious than a severe burn. Burns can happen in a variety of ways, but the most common causes are exposure to electricity, chemicals, sunburn, hot objects, boiling water, and fire. While some 2nd degree burns can be considered minor, they can also be very dangerous and sometimes life-threatening. 

Symptoms of a 2nd Degree Burn

The symptoms of a 2nd degree burn are similar to some of the symptoms of a 1st or 3rd degree burn. What makes it different is that the epidermis and dermis have been affected (whereas a 1st degree burn affects the epidermis and a 3rd degree burn affects the dermis and tissue beneath it). Common symptoms of a 2nd degree burn include a wet, glossy wound, a dark red appearance, blisters, painful and sensitive skin, and a white, discolored appearance to the site of the burn. 

2nd degree burns can become more serious if they affect large portions of the body. These burns are also dangerous when affecting the face, hands, joints, buttocks, or genitals. 2nd degree burns, if left untreated, can also cause infection. 

Treatment of a 2nd Degree Burn 

The first thing to do with any burn is to remove any objects, such as jewelry or clothing, from the affected area. Next, you should run cool (not cold) water over the burn to decrease its temperature. Gauze may be lightly wrapped around the burn, but not tightly as it will cut off circulation. After sustaining a burn, it is important to drink plenty of water. It is also helpful to avoid breaking any blisters, as broken blisters may scar and extend the time of recovery. 

In order to prevent infection, you will want to cover your burn in ointment or natural, proven salves. Antibiotic ointments, for instance, are a great relief to burns as they have anti-inflammatory properties and will protect the burn from outside substances. These ointments will also protect your burn from getting infected. Aloe Vera and even honey also have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that are helpful when dealing with a burn. 

When to Be Seen for a Second Degree Burn 

While some 2nd degree burns can be managed at home, others require immediate or eventual attention by a doctor. If your burn covers a large portion of your body or is causing you excruciating pain, you may want to be seen by a medical professional. While, yes, you can sometimes manage a burn at home, it can still become infected if not properly cared for. If this happens, you need to be seen as soon as possible. 


What happens if you burn yourself, but have to wait a few days to see your primary care physician? BASS Advanced Urgent Care is here at the ready through the day and some of the evening. Accidents happen and sometimes they are very painful. Why sit in agony waiting to be seen in a few days when you can get help on the same day as your accident?