Experiencing a burn at home can be an extremely uncomfortable and painful situation. While most burns sustained at home are minor, some burns such as chemical or electrical burns may cause major injury. In this article we detail the types of burns, and how to deal with minor burns at home.

Burns can be scalds, sunburns, electrical or chemical burns. Scalding (burning by hot liquid / steam) is the most common form of burn injury at home, especially in children. The most common causative substance is hot liquids. Burns can be very painful, and may leave scarred tissue once they have healed.

Broadly, burns can be classified into three types:

First degree burns:

These are minor burns, affecting only the outermost layer of skin. Redness, pain and swelling are usually present in first degree burns. First degree burns heal fast and only require basic measures. Sun burn is a good example of a first degree burn.

Second degree burns:


Second degree burns affect the first and second layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis),and are more painful than first degree burns. There may be swelling alongside pain and blisters. Second degree burns may cause scarring after healing.

Third degree burns:

Third degree burns are deep, reaching to the third layer of the skin, which comprises fat. As the nerves are present in this layer, these burns may be painless due to damage to the nerves. Third degree burns are severe and require immediate medical attention.


Follow the following steps to manage minor burns at home:

Take immediate action to stop the burning process – for example, by getting the person away from the fire.


Remove any clothing or jewellery that is near the burnt area of skin but do not remove anything that is stuck to the burnt skin.


Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm water for 10 to 30 minutes. Do not use ice, iced water or any creams or greasy substances, such as butter.


If the burn covers a large surface area, make sure that the person keeps warm – for example using a blanket, but take care to avoid rubbing it against the burnt area.


Cover the burn by placing a layer of non fluffy cloth or cling film over it, to keep it covered and protected. This reduces chances of infection.


Use painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to treat the pain of a burn.


For larger burns, deep burns, burn on crucial areas such as the face, hands, buttocks, feet or groin, for deep burns that maybe deep second degree or more, for those caused by electric shock or corrosive chemicals, and for burns that cause difficulty breathing, SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION.

Dr. Annie

Physician, mom and wife

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