Treating Burns

Coming into contact with extreme temperatures, harmful chemicals, radiation or electrical energy can cause tissue damage on the exposed skin. A person may experience varying levels of pain and swelling, peeling skin, blisters, and skin discolouration. A burn can lead to infection if left untreated.

Classifications of burns

Burns are classified as first-, second-, third- or fourth-degree burns, depending on the depth of the wounds.

  • First-degree burns are also referred to as superficial burns, affecting only the outermost layer of skin (or the epidermis). Common symptoms include redness of the burnt location, mild pain, and dryness of the skin. These do not typically result in long-term damages.
  • Second-degree burns partially damage the dermis, which is the second layer of our skin. Those afflicted will experience similar symptoms to a first-degree burn in addition to blisters, swelling, and increased pain.
  • Third-degree burns tear through both the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin and may cause damage to internal tissue, such as the muscles, bones, and tendons. Burns of this severity appear white or charred visually.
  • Fourth-degree burns refer to burns that are deep enough to damage underlying bones, muscles, or tendons.

What are the common causes of burns

  • Thermal burns occur when our skin comes into contact with extreme temperatures, resulting in tissue damage. Examples of everyday burn hazards include boiled water, heated metals, steam, lighters, and torches.
  • Radiation burns result from prolonged exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic waves, such as ultraviolet rays and x-rays.
  • Chemical burns happen when our skin or eyes come into contact with corrosive chemicals, such as alkalies, heavy acids, and detergents.
  • Electrical burns occur when a person is exposed to wires and improper use of electrical equipment, causing electrical currents to damage skin tissues.

What are the complications that come with burns?

In addition to bacterial infection, burns that are left untreated can lead to discolouration and scarring, regardless of severity.

However, avoiding treatment for third-degree burns can lead to serious consequences which include:

  • Disturbances to one’s heart rhythm (arrhythmia) resulting from electrical burns.
  • Symptoms of hypotension, such as dizziness, fatigue, and nausea
  • Heavy infection in the burn wound, causing sepsis and requiring amputation
  • Scarring and contractures with lasting physical implications
  • Excess fluids and swelling of tissue, known as oedema
  • Organ failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Dehydration

What should I do if I get burned?

The immediate response to a serious burn is to cool the burn with lukewarm water, elevate the burnt area properly, and mask the burn with cling wrap or other protective material.

Minor burns can be treated through home remedies and lifestyle adjustments and will heal within a few weeks.

On the other hand, serious burns will require immediate professional medical attention. Do not attempt to treat a third-degree burn or a second-degree burn wider than 5 centimetres at home, as this could lead to several complications listed above

How are burns treated properly?

SKINCENTRIC at Bukit Tinggi Medical Centre offers several holistic treatments that assist burn victims with making a full recovery, such as water-based treatments, medication and ointments, wound dressing, antibiotics, and more.

Patients can rest assured as our expert dermatologists provide services such as in-depth evaluations, swift diagnosis, and building effective treatment plans that help facilitate a smooth recovery.

Consider consulting a dermatologist at Bukit Tinggi Medical Centre’s SKINCENTRIC if you are experiencing severe pain, blistering, and signs of infection following a burn.

Meet our specialist

Dr Goh Siew Wen

Dr Jagjeet Singh
Plastic Surgeon
Plastic Surgery