Burn Injuries

Thermal burns occur when heat energy damages skin. The amount of skin involved and the depth of the skin damage determine the severity of the injury. Frequent causes are contact with hot surfaces or scalding liquids. Less common burns seen are flame injury, electrical or chemical burns. Some burns are very serious and require immediate specialized care. This form deals only with those injuries that are safely treated at home or with outpatient care.

Burn care is directed at relief of pain and prevention of skin infection and further tissue damage. The healing process may take up to a month and occasionally will leave some discoloration or scarring of the skin. Often it is not easy to predict the extent of permanent skin damage at the time of the initial evaluation. Early referral to a specialist is possible.

Home Care for Burns

  • Your burn has been examined, cleaned and dressed by the urgent care staff. Keep the dressing clean, dry and safe from further trauma. If on an extremity, elevate it when possible.

  • Dressing changes are required at least daily for the first five to seven days. If you do this at home, cleanse the burn area with mild soap and water, reapply the burn cream and sterile dressing. (Note: It may help to take pain medication one half hour before dressing changes for the first few days if the procedure is uncomfortable).

  • Try to keep any blisters intact for as long as possible as they are an excellent sterile dressing. We will trim away any loose tissue if it becomes necessary.

  • Burn wounds generally require careful inspection for signs of infection. You will likely be asked to follow-up with your own physician or in the urgent care Center on a daily basis for the first 5-7 days for this, as well as for dressing changes (if you do not do them yourself).

  • Avoid direct sunlight on the burn site for a few months to reduce excessive pigmentation of the skin.

  • In general, it is good to exercise and keep mobile any body area that has been burned. Your provider will advise you regarding activity, since sometimes immobilization is recommended initially.


Call or Return If Any of the Following Occur:

  • A red border extending rapidly away from the burn site, or red streaking of the skin.

  • Fever or severe pain around the site of the injury.

  • Blisters become broken or disrupted or your dressing is contaminated.

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