How to treat burns – Burns can happen for many reasons. While most are relatively minor, others may require medical attention. Knowing the difference is essential.

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What is a burn?

Burns are skin damages sustained as a result of contact with a hot surface, flame or other substance such as boiling water or excessive exposure to the sun. Burns can also be caused by exposure to high levels of electric current or by chemicals. There are different categories of burns, based on their severity, and each requires its own treatment.

Degrees of burns

First degree burns

First degree burns are typically superficial skin damages that do not exceed the top layer of skin. This also includes mild sunburns. First degree burns can be painful but, in most cases, easily treated at home. They are often characterised by pain, redness, slight swelling and dryness but without blisters.

Second degree burns

Second degree burns can be extremely painful and create more serious skin damage as they include the epidermis and part of the underlying dermis. The burned area is red, swollen and blistered and may become infected if not properly cared for. These burns can often be treated with basic first aid but depending on their location or size may also require medical attention.

Third degree burns

Third degree burns are extremely serious and cause severe damage to deeper layers of the skin. They are characterised by a whitened or charred burn site with no sensation in the area due to destroyed nerve endings. Third degree burns are emergency situations and immediate medical attention should be sought.

How to treat first degree burns

Most first-degree burns are relatively minor and are most often caused by brief contact with a hot surface or a minor scald from hot water. Another common form of first-degree burn is sunburn, caused by damage from the sun’s UV rays. Typically, first degree burns recover on their own and do not require special treatment. However, it is recommended to cool the affected area under running water to relieve the pain and then apply Hansaplast Wound Healing Ointment. If you have a sunburn, wear loose-fitting clothing for a few days and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Even for first degree burns you should seek medical advice if the burned area is large or if after initial pain relief the burned area again shows signs of infection such as redness, heat, swelling, pain, itching or burning.

Further, medical attention is necessary if a child is burned, if the burn is on sensitive parts of the body e.g. on the face, or if you have any questions or concerns.

How to treat second degree burns

Second degree burns can be more serious and thus require more care than first degree burns. First, cool the wound under running water for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not apply ice or extremely cold water as it could create further damage and lower the body’s temperature. Use the Hansaplast Wound Spray to clean from bacteria to prevent infections. Afterwards, gently dry the affected area and apply a thin layer of Hansaplast Wound Healing Ointment to support the healing process and cover your burn with an appropriate plaster or a sterile compress to protect it from external influences. Do not attempt to break any blisters that may occur. Many second-degree burns will heal within a week or two if kept clean and cared for. Depending on the location and size of the burn, it may be advisable to visit your doctor, especially to prevent scarring or if you discover any sign of infection during the healing phase, such as redness, swelling, or pain. 

How to treat third degree burns

For third-degree burns you should always seek medical attention immediately.

Prevent burns in the kitchen


It goes without saying that prevention is the best course of action when dealing with burns, especially in the kitchen. Always:

Make sure to use sufficiently thick hot pads or oven mitts when handling hot dishes or cookware.
Keep pot or pan handles on the stove facing away from yourself so you don’t accidentally bump into them.
Open pots and pans with the lid facing away from you to prevent scalding from the sudden release of steam.
Always make sure that hot cooking appliances and cookware, as well as candles and other open flames are kept out of reach of young children.
Teach proper kitchen safety to kids.

How to recognise an infected burn

Just like any other wound, burns can become infected. Typical signs of an infection are: additional redness around the wound, abnormal warmth, reoccurrence of pain after the initial pain relief, swelling of the wound and occurrence of pus. Also, a fever may be a sign of an infection. If you notice any of these changes, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

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