From sunburns to scalds, MedExpress is here to help you heal your burns. 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.

The level of care you'll need depends upon the burn category and the substance that caused the burn.

Many different substances can cause burns: the sun, electricity, fire, hot liquids, heated objects and chemicals.

Burn Categories

First-Degree Burn
The least serious type, first-degree burns only involve the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin. First-degree burns can be treated at MedExpress. 

First-degree burn symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Second-Degree Burn
A second-degree burn is more serious than a first-degree burn. This type of burn can also be treated at MedExpress. 

The symptoms include:

  • Red, white or splotchy skin
  • Swelling
  • Pain 
  • Blisters

Third-Degree Burn
This is the most serious burn, affecting all layers of the skin and the underlying subcutaneous fat. Muscle and bone may be affected, too. This type of burn should be treated at the Emergency Department. 

Symptoms include:

  • Charred black or white burned areas
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning or other effects if smoke inhalation occurred. 

How to Treat a Burn

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

Minor Burns
To offer relief for most minor burns (most first-degree burns), 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 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
Most second-degree burns and all third-degree burns are severe and require immediate medical attention. Burns involving children and the elderly should be considered severe and evaluated by a medical professional.

If a first-degree burn affects most of the hands or feet, or if it is on the face, groin, buttocks or a major joint, it should be considered severe. 

While waiting for medical attention:

  • 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. 

Sunburn

Sneaky Burns That Can Be Serious

What is Sunburn?
Sunburn is a burn to the skin produced by overexposure to the sun’s rays. In its mildest form, it’s a first-degree burn that can be treated at home. But, sometimes sunburns are serious and 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.