Wondering When to Seek Medical Attention for a Burn? Burn Degrees and Factors to Consider

when to seek medical attention for a burn


Unfortunately, burns can happen to anyone at any time. It’s easy to have an accident and burn yourself while cooking, ironing or boiling the kettle. Luckily, the majority of burns tend to be minor and will heal quickly without much intervention.

However, how do you know when to seek medical attention for a burn? Some burns can look worse than they are. So, here’s some advice on what to look for.

The Three Degrees

There are three levels of degrees when it comes to burns. They aim to describe the severity of a burn and the actions you might take to help yourself. 

  • First degree: First-degree burns are mild and usually only affect the outer layer of the skin. Although they are painful, they usually heal well on their own.
  • Second degree: A second-degree burn is worse, burning through the outer layer of skin and into the layers beneath. These burns may require medical attention, especially if they become infected.
  • Third degree: Third-degree burns are classed as the worst type of burns. The burn pierces through your skin to the tissues. You will need to seek medical attention immediately.

How to Treat Burns

If your burns are minor and you believe you can treat them easily at home, there are a few things you can do to help the healing process. Make sure to remove clothing and jewelry from the area so the skin has a chance to breathe.

Immediately run cold water over the area to stop the chances of a blister occurring. If you do develop a blister and it breaks, clean the area with an antiseptic that also soothes the skin, like aloe vera gel.

If a blister breaks, it’s best to bandage the area to avoid infection. If you believe the burn has become infected, it’s time to get it checked by a medical professional.

When to Seek Medical Attention for a Burn

There are times when you should always seek medical attention for a burn, no matter the degree. For instance, if the burn was caused by a chemical or you were burned by electricity. 

If the area of the burn is larger than your hand, it can take more time to heal. A medical professional will be able to assess it and prescribe any medication necessary. 

Certain areas of the body that will need to be assessed when burned. These include the face, groin and major joints. Also, if you experience any new symptoms or the burn takes too long to heal, you should see your doctor.

Knowing Your Body

When all else fails and you want to know when to seek medical attention for a burn, use your intuition. You’ll know better than anyone else when something isn’t right with your body.

Take a look at our website for more information on identifying different degrees and treating burns.