Second-Degree Burns (Partial Thickness Burns)

Second-degree burns (partial thickness burns) involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. The burn site appears red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful.

In most cases, partial thickness second-degree burns are caused by the following:

  • Scald injuries
  • Flames
  • Skin that briefly comes in contact with a hot object
  • Sunburn
  • Chemicals
  • Electricity

Common signs and symptoms of a partial thickness second-degree burn as follows.

  • Blisters
  • Deep redness
  • Burned area may appear wet and shiny
  • Skin that is painful to the touch
  • Burn may be white or discolored in an irregular pattern
Superficial second-degree burns usually heal in about three weeks, as long as the wound is kept clean and protected. Deep second-degree burns may take longer than three weeks to heal. Specific treatment for a second-degree burn will be determined by physician.

A second-degree burn that does not cover more than 10 percent of the skin's surface can usually be treated in an outpatient setting.

Treatment depends on the severity of the burn and may include the following
Antibiotic ointments
Dressing changes one or two times a day depending on the severity of the burn
Daily cleaning of the wound to remove dead skin or ointment
Possibly systemic antibiotics
Wound cleaning and dressing changes may be painful. In these cases, an analgesic (pain reliever) may need to be given. In addition, any blisters that have formed should not be burst.

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