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Second Degree Burn

  • Overview

    What is a second-degree burn?

    A second-degree burn affects the outer and underlying layers of skin-the epidermis and dermis.

    second degree burn, 2nd degree burn, second degree burn diagram

    What causes a second-degree burn?

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

    • scald injuries
    • flames
    • skin that briefly comes in contact with a hot object

    Children's Hospital Boston
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115
     617-355-6117


  • Tests

    What are the symptoms of a second-degree burn?

    The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a second-degree burn. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

    • 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

    The symptoms of a second-degree burn may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

  • 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.

    A second-degree burn that doesn't 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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