2nd Degree Burn

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Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on March 4, 2021.

  • Care Notes
  1. A 2nd degree burn is more severe than a 1st degree burn and can be caused by sunburn or chemical exposure. This type of burn involves the second layer of skin being affected and results in some blistering of the skin. The type of treatment that is required forthi stype of burn varies, but you are often recommended to apply cool water and cover.
  2. A deep second-degree burn can take longer to heal. A second-degree burn can also get worse after a few days and become a third-degree burn. What causes a second-degree burn? Direct exposure to heat or flame is the most common cause of second-degree burn. This includes contact with hot objects or flames such as an iron, a skillet, tar.

Second-Degree Burns. While working on a project in the lab, a small explosion burned the hands and forearms of Jake, the lab assistant. He soon developed blisters on his arms.

  • Aftercare Instructions


A second-degree burn is also called a partial-thickness burn. A second-degree burn occurs when the first layer and some of the second layer of skin are burned. A superficial second-degree burn usually heals within 2 to 3 weeks with some scarring. A deep second-degree burn can take longer to heal. A second-degree burn can also get worse after a few days and become a third-degree burn.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a fast heartbeat or breathing.
  • You are not urinating.

Call your doctor or burn specialist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have increased redness, numbness, or swelling in the burn area.
  • Your wound or bandage is leaking pus and has a bad smell.
  • Your pain does not get better, or gets worse, even after you take pain medicine.
  • You have a dry mouth or eyes.
  • You are overly thirsty or tired.
  • You have dark yellow urine or urinate less than usual.
  • You have a headache or feel dizzy.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
2nd degree burn healing stages


  • Medicines may be given to decrease pain, prevent infection, or help your burn heal. They may be given as a pill or as an ointment applied to your skin.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Burn care:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.

  • Remove old bandages. You may need to soak the bandage in water before you remove it so it will not stick to your wound.
  • Gently clean the burned area daily with mild soap and water. Pat the area dry. Look for any swelling or redness around the burn. Do not break closed blisters. You may cause a skin infection.
  • Apply cream or ointment to the burn with a cotton swab. Place a nonstick bandage over your burn.
  • Wrap a layer of gauze around the bandage to hold it in place. The wrap should be snug but not tight. It is too tight if you feel tingling or lose feeling in that area.
  • Apply gentle pressure for a few minutes if bleeding occurs.
  • Elevate your burned arm or leg above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your burned arm or leg on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.


  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink extra liquid to help prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Go to physical therapy, if directed. Your muscles and joints may not work well after a second-degree burn. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Prevent second-degree burns:

2nd degree burn blisters
  • Do not leave cups, mugs, or bowls containing hot liquids at the edge of a table. Keep pot handles turned away from the stove front.
  • Do not leave a lit cigarette. Make sure it is no longer lit. Then dispose of it safely.
  • Store dangerous items out of the reach of children. Store cigarette lighters, matches, and chemicals where children cannot reach them. Use child safety latches on the door of the safe storage area.

  • Keep your water heater setting to low or medium (90°F to 120°F, or 32°C to 48°C).
  • Wear sunscreen that has a sun protectant factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. The sunscreen should also have ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) protection. Follow the directions on the label when you use sunscreen. Put on more sunscreen if you are in the sun for more than an hour. Reapply sunscreen often if you go swimming or are sweating.

2nd Degree Burn To Left Forearm Icd 10

Follow up with your doctor or burn specialist as directed:

You may need to return to have your wound checked and your bandage changed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Second-Degree Burn (Aftercare Instructions)

2nd Degree Burn Blister

Associated drugs

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2nd Degree Burn Definition

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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For You

A burn is damage to your body's tissues caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight, or radiation. Scalds from hot liquids and steam, building fires and flammable liquids and gases are the most common causes of burns. Another kind is an inhalation injury, caused by breathing smoke.

There are three types of burns:

  • First-degree burns damage only the outer layer of skin
  • Second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the layer underneath
  • Third-degree burns damage or destroy the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath

Burns can cause swelling, blistering, scarring and, in serious cases, shock, and even death. They also can lead to infections because they damage your skin's protective barrier. Treatment for burns depends on the cause of the burn, how deep it is, and how much of the body it covers. Antibiotic creams can prevent or treat infections. For more serious burns, treatment may be needed to clean the wound, replace the skin, and make sure the patient has enough fluids and nutrition.

NIH: National Institute of General Medical Sciences

  • Burns (American College of Emergency Physicians)
  • What Is a Burn? (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
  • Burn Evaluation (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • Burn and Scald Prevention (United States Fire Administration) - PDF
  • Preventing Burns in Your Home (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
  • Aloe Vera (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Blisters: First Aid (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Skin graft - slideshow (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • What Do I Need in My First Aid Kit? (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
  • How to Help a Person with a Serious Burn Injury (Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors)
  • Chemical Burns: First Aid (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Electrical Burns: First Aid (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Fireworks Safety (National Fire Protection Association) - PDF
  • Risk of Burns from Eruptions of Hot Water Overheated in Microwave Ovens (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Scald Burns (Burn Institute) - PDF

2nd Degree Burn Scar

  • Burn Prevention for Families with Children with Special Needs (Safe Kids Worldwide)

2nd Degree Burn Treatment

  • Burn Incidence and Treatment in the U.S. (American Burn Association)
  • Fire and Burn Injuries Among Children in 2018 (Safe Kids Worldwide) - PDF
  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Burns (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

  • Article: Development of a Topical Insulin Polymeric Nanoformulation for Skin Burn Regeneration:...
  • Article: A Narrative Review of the History of Skin Grafting in Burn...
  • Article: Historical Evolution of Skin Grafting-A Journey through Time.
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  • Burn Safety Awareness on Playgrounds: Thermal Burns from Playground Equipment (Consumer Product Safety Commission) - PDF
  • Burns (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
  • First Aid: Burns (Nemours Foundation)
  • Treating and Preventing Burns (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish
  • Burns (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • Chemical burn or reaction (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • Minor burns - aftercare (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • Skin graft (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish