Burns can be caused by heat and fire, radiation, sunlight, electricity, or chemicals. There are 3 degrees of burns: First-degree burns are red and painful. They swell a little. They turn white when you press on the skin. The skin over the burn may peel off after 1 or 2 days. First-degree burns usually heal in 3 to 6 days and generally are treated with cool water and a soothing cream, such as Aloe Vera. Do not put butter, oil, ice, or ice water on burns. This can cause more damage to the skin.
Thicker burns, called second-degree burns, have blisters and are painful. The skin is very red or splotchy, and it may swell a lot. They usually heal in 2 to 3 weeks. They generally require evaluation by a medical provider, as they often need prescription healing creams and a tetanus shot.
Third-degree burns cause damage to all layers of the skin. The burned skin looks white or charred. These burns may cause little or no pain because the nerves in the skin are damaged. These require emergency medical attention. For a third-degree burn, go to an emergency room right away. Don’t take off any clothing stuck to the burn. You may cover the burn with a clean cloth but don’t soak this burn in water or apply ointment. Third degree burns take a very long time to heal and sometimes require surgery.