Burn Program Frequently Asked Questions

What is a 1st Degree burn?

  • First degree burns involve the top layer (epidermis) of the skin
  • These are bright pink or red
  • They usually don't have blisters, although the skin may flake a few days later
  • These are usually painful
  • They usually heal within 3-5 days
  • There is no scarring

What is a 2nd Degree burn?

  • These involve the bottom layer (dermis) of the skin
  • These are usually red, pink and moist
  • Some deeper 2nd-degree burns may be pink or white and dry
  • These are usually painful
  • They usually take 2-3 weeks to heal, although deeper 2nd-degree burns may take much longer
  • Deeper 2nd-degree burns may lead to scarring and contraction
  • Deeper 2nd degree burns often require skin grafting
  • Larger and deeper 2nd burns should ALWAYS be seen by a burn specialist

What is a 3rd Degree burn?

  • All layers of skin are destroyed
  • These often involve the underlying fat
  • These are usually white, brown, dry and leather-like
  • Third Degree burns do not require skin grafting
  • Third Degree burns cause scarring and contraction
  • These should ALWAYS be seen by a burn specialist

Who should be evaluated by a Burn Center?

  • Adult 2nd degree burns > 10% TBSA (total body surface area)
  • Pediatric 2nd degree burns > 5% TBSA 
  • ANY 3rd-degree burn 
  • Chemical injuries 
  • Electrical injuries 
  • Inhalational injuries 
  • Patients with burn and trauma injuries 
  • Burns involving face, hands, feet, genitalia, perineum or crossing major joints 
  • Burn injury with preexisting medical condition that may complicate management 
  • ANY burned child in hospital without facilities to provide care for children
  • Burn injury in patients who require special social, emotional or rehabilitative intervention
  • ANY burn that your physician is not comfortable managing

I would like to donate to the burn center. What can I do?

  • We are extremely grateful for anyone willing to donate as we have numerous projects designed for improving the care of burn survivors around the world.
  • Everything that we have done wouldn’t have been possible if not for the generous contributions from the public.
  • Please contact us at 501-364-1635 for more information.

If my child is admitted to the Burn Center, will he/she miss an entire year of school?

  • With recent advances, it is extremely rare for children, even with large burns, to miss an entire school year.
  • Arkansas Children’s Hospital also offers in-hospital schooling for patients who are here for longer periods of time.

I want my staff/hospital/school to learn more about burns. What can I do?

  • Our nurses and physicians provide educational and outreach programs across the state; you can contact our outreach coordinator at 501-364-2195 or e-mail at

What can I do to prevent someone in my house from being burned?

  • Keep small children out of the kitchen 
  • Turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove 
  • Watch out for electrical cords attached to hot items 
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees 
  • Keep lighters and matches LOCKED away (not just hidden) 
  • If you have children at home that play with matches or lighters, you can contact the Arkansas Firesetter Intervention, Referral and Education (FIRE) program at 1-800-KID-FIRE 
  • Don’t use gasoline for any reason other than filling your gas tank 
  • Do not smoke while using oxygen 

I have scars from an old burn that are painful and don’t allow me to move freely. What can I do?

  • Our burn surgeons perform burn reconstruction and scar revisions. Call the Burn office at 501-364-1635 for more information. 

I was burned and now have light and dark areas (hypo- and hyperpigmented) areas on my skin. Is there something that I can do?

  • 1st and most 2nd degree burns should regain most of the normal skin color after 9-18 month
  • We do offer some surgical procedures that can help with color changes
  • Call the Burn office at 501-364-1635 for more information

My child is burned, can I donate skin?

  • Unfortunately, not as the body will reject someone else’s skin. We do use cadaver skin, and there is always a need for organ and skin donation; you can contact the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) at 501-224-2623 for more information about the Gift of Life.

Do I have to do dressing changes at home?

  • Yes, we can often have home-health nurses assist and will train caregivers in proper techniques.

Am I awake for dressing changes?

  • When the dressing changes become minor and you are close to being discharged from the hospital, you will be awake for the dressings to make sure you and/or family can do the dressing changes at home.

Am I awake during surgery?

  • NO; most of our patients are placed under general anesthesia unless they have significant heart or lung issues.

What is a skin graft?

  • Skin grafting is the process of “shaving” a thin layer of skin from an unburned area and applying to the burned area after the burned skin is removed.
  • The area where is the skin is taken from (donor site) usually heals without scarring in 2-3 weeks.

I heard that daily dressing changes and whirlpool therapy are very painful and that patients are always screaming. Is that true?

  • NO; we do not use whirlpool therapy and some of the newer dressings do not require daily changes. 
  • Our surgeons, anesthesiologist, and nurses are very attentive to the patient’s pain and we strive to minimize patients discomfort.

I have seen pictures of patients with large scars and twisted extremities. Am I going to look like that?

  • With recent advances in burn care and the use of skin substitutes, we can usually prevent large, thick scars.
  • Most of our patients regain close to 100% of their pre-injury level of function.

What kind of burn does grease cause?

  • Grease burns usually cause deeper 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree burns and almost 40% require surgery.

Can soup and sauces cause deeper burns?

  • Yes, especially in children and the elderly, soups and sauces can cause deep 2nd degree burns.

What can I do to heal faster?

  • For 1st Degree burns – make sure you apply moisturizer and keep the skin moist
  • For 2nd and 3rd Degree burns – seek medical attention
  • For larger burns, we advise a balanced, nutritious diet with extra protein
  • Nicotine and smoking SIGNIFICANTLY impair the healing process
  • If advised, therapy is very important and helps patients regain function and may prevent the need for reconstructive surgery.

What is the first thing I should do I when I am burned?

  • STOP the burning process (STOP, DROP and ROLL)
  • If small, run the affected area under cool (not cold) water
  • Cover with a clean dry towel or sheet
  • Seek medical attention
  • Do not attempt to treat at home