Thermal burns occur when you come in contact with something hot. Typically, you will suffer a thermal burn when you touch:
- Flames or fire
- Hot, molten liquid or steam (referred to as a scald)
- Hot objects, such as cooking pans, irons, or heated appliances.
Treatment for thermal burns depends on the location and severity of the burn. For moderate to severe burns, you should immediately take these steps:
- Put out any fire or flames and stop contact with the hot or heated source.
- Use cold water to cool the burned area. Do not use ice, as it may further damage the skin.
- For more severe burns, loosely apply a sterile bandage or clean cloth to the burned area. Do not remove parts of your skin or pop blisters. Seek medical attention for further treatment.
You may receive a chemical burn if your skin and/or eyes come in contact with a harsh irritant, such as acid. Substances that cause chemical burns include:
- Battery acid
- Strong or harsh cleaners
Take these steps if you have been burned by a chemical: wash the burned area under running water for at least 20 minutes. If the chemical has entered your eye, wash your eye for about 20 minutes to remove traces of the chemical. Then, go to the hospital if the burn is:
- Larger than three inches
- On your face, hands, feet, groin, or buttocks
- Still very painful after taking over-the-counter pain medication
- On a major joint, like the knee
Electrical burns happen when the body comes in contact with an electric current. Our internal systems are not resistant to electricity, so you may be injured if a strong jolt enters your body.
The most common cause of electrical burn is coming in contact with an extension cord where the insulation material has worn away. Low-voltage electrical burns can also occur in the mouth, most commonly when young children place non-insulated cords in their mouth.
A burn may appear on your skin if an electric current runs through your body. These burns can be treated like a thermal or chemical burn. However, if you come in contact with an electric current, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately. Electricity can affect internal tissues and muscles and have long-term, negative effects on your health.
A friction burn can occur when skin repeatedly rubs against another surface or is scraped against a hard surface. Like other burns, friction burns are categorized into degrees.
Many friction burns are first degree and often heal on their own within three to six days. You can use moisturizing cream at home to care for it. For more serious friction burns, you should seek medical care immediately.