Second-Degree Burns (Partial Thickness Burns)
What is a second-degree burn?
Second-degree burns (also known as partial thickness burns) involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. The burn site appears red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful.
What causes a second-degree burn?
In most cases, partial thickness second-degree burns are caused by the following:
What are the symptoms of a second-degree burn?
The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a partial thickness second-degree burn. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Burned area may appear wet and shiny
Skin that is painful to the touch
Burn may be white or discolored in an irregular pattern
The symptoms of a second-degree burn may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
Treatment for partial thickness second-degree burns
Superficial second-degree burns usually heal in about three weeks, as long as the wound is kept clean and protected. Deep second-degree burns may take longer than three weeks to heal. Specific treatment for a second-degree burn will be determined by your child's physician, based on the following:
Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the burn
Location of the burn
Cause of the burn
Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Your opinion or preference
A second-degree burn that does not cover more than 10 percent of the skin's surface can usually be treated in an outpatient setting. Treatment depends on the severity of the burn and may include the following:
Dressing changes one or two times a day depending on the severity of the burn
Daily cleaning of the wound to remove dead skin or ointment
Possibly systemic antibiotics
Wound cleaning and dressing changes may be painful. In these cases, an analgesic (pain reliever) may need to be given. In addition, any blisters that have formed should not be burst.
Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 05/20/2013
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