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From sunburns to scalds, burns can happen in many ways. And sometimes it can be hard to tell if a burn needs professional medical treatment because they can range in severity and sometimes worsen over time.


If you’ve experienced a mild or moderate burn, you can stop by your local MedExpress to have our medical team evaluate and treat it.

What Causes Burns?

Many different substances can cause burns: the sun, electricity, fire, hot liquids, heated objects and chemicals. Thermal burns – from steam, scalding liquids, hot metals or flames – are the most common type of burns.

cooking on a stove


Sneaky Burns That Can Be Serious

What is Sunburn?
Sunburn is a burn to the skin produced by overexposure to the sun’s rays. Sometimes sunburns are serious and require medical attention. Sun poisoning is an allergic response to UV rays and could require medical attention.

Symptoms of Sunburn

  • Skin that is tight, red, and painful.
  • Swollen skin.
  • Blisters.
  • Fever and chills. 

Prevent Sunburn
You can avoid sunburn through good prevention measures.

  • Stay out of the sun from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., when sunlight is strongest. 
  • Cover your skin with a brimmed hat, sunglasses, and light, breathable fabric.
  • Use sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, and apply it at least 20 minutes before going outside. Be sure to reapply every few hours and immediately after swimming or sweating. 

Treatment for Burns and Sunburn

Burn treatment depends upon the burn’s severity and the substance that caused the burn.

At MedExpress, we can treat minor skin burns caused by exposure to sun or heat. These minor burns are typically characterized by some redness, light swelling, and/or minor to moderate pain. Severe burns always require immediate evaluation and treatment at an emergency room.  

Minor Burns
To offer relief for most minor burns and sunburns, consider: 

  • Holding the burn under cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes or apply a cool cloth to the affected area. 
  • Keeping blisters intact. If you have blisters, don’t break them. If they break on their own, wash them gently with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover them with a bandage. 
  • Applying lotion that contains aloe vera, which many help to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Protecting any newly burned areas from exposure to cold, because burned skin can more easily develop frostbite.
  • Avoiding putting ice or butter on burned skin, because these can possibly damage tissue.

While tending to a burn or sunburn be sure to watch for signs of infection: delayed healing, increased pain, or increased warmth around the burn. If you suspect a possible infection, visit your local MedExpress so a provider can evaluate the wound.

Severe Burns
Severe burns require immediate medical attention. Call 911 immediately or go to your nearest emergency room. 

Special circumstances when burns should always be considered severe:

  • If the burn involves children or the elderly. 
  • If the burn affects the eyes. 
  • If the burn was caused by electricity or chemicals. 
  • If the burn affects most of the hands or feet, or if it is on the face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint.

Severe burns require immediate medical attention. Until it is obtained:

  • Be sure not to remove clothing that may be stuck to skin. 
  • However, you can remove any jewelry or belts, because burned areas swell quickly.
  • Large burns should not be immersed in cold water, because it can cause hypothermia.
  • If possible, elevate the burned area.
  • Gently cover the burn with a clean, cool, moist cloth.
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