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6 Signs That a Burn Needs Medical Attention

Minor burns are a fact of life for anyone who cooks, lights candles, or enjoys fresh air and sunlight. Many of these smaller burns can be treated at home with cool water and a sterile bandage.

However, burns that are not properly cared for are at high risk of serious infection so it’s important to know the difference between a burn that you can handle at home and one that requires professional medical attention.

In this blog, we list six signs that you should see a doctor for your burn.

  1. Discoloration

One of the most obvious ways to tell if a burn is serious is by looking at its coloration. Minor burns tend to appear pink or red. The skin around a minor burn changes color under pressure. Specifically, the burn turns white when pushed on and then red when the pressure lets up.

More serious burns may appear mottled or blotchy and may not change color based on pressure. Extremely serious burns could take on other colors as well, such as gray.

  1. Extensive Size

Regardless of the depth of a burn, the injury is only considered minor if the surface area of the burn is less than 3 inches across. Larger burns make the patient highly susceptible to infection and scarring.

Additionally, the home remedies for burns may actually endanger a patient with a large burn. For example, submerging a large burn in water could lead to extreme body temperature changes and even hypothermia.

  1. Lack of Pain

Burns hurt, or at least minor to moderate burns hurt. When burns are deep and severe, the nerves involved may be damaged to the point that they register little to no pain.

If your burn does not seem to hurt, but it looks pretty bad, see a doctor as soon as possible.

  1. Large Blisters

Blisters form to protect raw portions of skin. While the blisters themselves are an important part of your body’s immune system’s processes, the appearance of blisters means that the burn is serious. You should be particularly concerned about blisters the size of a dime or larger.

If these blisters rupture or are punctured, you are highly likely to suffer an infection or sustain a permanent scar.

  1. Unpleasant Odor

No burned substance smells pleasant, but once a burn has been cleaned, it shouldn’t smell like anything. If your burn begins to smell like rot, singed skin, or raw meat, the odor may indicate an infection.

Occasionally, these odors are joined by discharge from the burn. Both changes in smell and appearance are signs that you should seek medical attention.

  1. Vulnerable Location

One of the factors that determines whether a burn is classified as first, second, or third degree is where the injury is located. Burns in areas vulnerable to infection or scarring may be classed as second- or third-degree burns, even when they aren’t particularly deep.

If your burn is on your face, hand, or groin region or is around a joint, see a doctor for treatment.

If you notice any of the signs listed above, go to an urgent care center for medical treatment as soon as possible. These facilities can typically handle mild to severe burns that affect a localized portion of the body.

If your burns are extensive, infected, or affecting normal bodily functions such as respiration and blood flow, call emergency medical responders to take you to the nearest emergency room immediately.

For expert care from compassionate professionals, choose Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc. We offer a wide variety of as-needed care, including tissue and blister removal as part of burn treatments.


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