Burns: degrees, how to treat, ointments, first aid


What are burns?

Burns are injuries unlike any other and are extremely serious. They are injuries caused by thermal changes, radiation or chemical reactions.

They can be caused by extremes of temperature (too cold or too hot), in addition to chemical, electrical or radiation reactions. But those caused by high temperatures are the most frequent.

They are classified based on the depth of the burn and its extent on the skin. The higher the degree and the greater the body surface affected, the more serious the problem.

Very common, especially in children, more than one million Brazilians suffer burns every year. They usually affect the skin and mucous membranes of the body (such as the throat), but when exposure is too long, internal organs and even bones can be affected.

When we talk about burns, fire is one of the main villains. Therefore, respecting the flames is important. One should not play with fire.

In about two minutes, an entire room can succumb to the flames:

We like to think we have mastered the fire, but we just control it, and losing control is pretty easy. Any carelessness can be fatal or have consequences for a lifetime, so it is important to be careful not to burn yourself.

How does the burn affect our body?

There are several types of burns, but the result of all of them is the total or partial destruction of the tissue.

If this destruction affects only the superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis , the body can regenerate itself in a few days, but from the moment the dermis  (the layer of skin below the surface) is destroyed, we start to have a big problem.

The dermis has small vessels that nourish the epidermis. Without it, the epidermis cannot be regenerated. First, the dermis must heal and only then does the surface layer of the skin regenerate. But this regeneration is complicated.

The skin serves to protect the body. It prevents bacteria from entering, does not allow too much heat to escape and keeps the body fluids inside the body, preventing evaporation. When it is destroyed, these three functions are compromised.

In addition, two other problems worsen the situation. The first is that the destroyed dermis becomes the focus of infectious agents.

Bacteria start to feed on the parts of the skin that are dead, which would not be a big problem if it was intact, but in this case it is not. Bacteria can easily enter the bloodstream and cause serious infections.

The damaged dermis also hinders circulation, which causes problems in regeneration and healing.

It is even worse when the dermis is completely destroyed and the muscle tissue begins to be affected, because when this happens, the body cannot regenerate the wound and the risks of infections are even greater. Too much liquid can be lost and the person may die of dehydration.

This can also lead to a state of shock, which happens when the amount of fluid in the body is low and the pressure is severely reduced, which can cause a lack of oxygenation of important cells, such as the heart or brain, in addition to other organs.

The second problem is that the inflammatory system is altered. Normally it deals with threats from the body – infections, injuries – causing inflammation, eliminating bacteria and dead cells. However, when there is a big or deep burn, he can overreact and make it worse.

The inflammations of burns are severe and can affect the entire body, causing problems for internal organs and can damage them.

Burns are extremely dangerous injuries and must be taken seriously, especially when they affect sensitive areas (face, genitals), are deep or reach a very large area.


There are several types of burns. The most frequent is that caused by heat. Too hot and the injury is guaranteed. However, there are a few different ways that a burn can happen. Are they:

Thermal burn

Thermal burns are the most frequent and there are several ways to burn like this. These are injuries caused by a large transfer of thermal energy. It doesn’t matter much whether that energy is being absorbed by the skin or lost through it.

Scalding burn

One of the most common causes of burns, especially in children, is scalding. It happens when we come into contact with very hot liquids.

For example, if a child pulls a pot of boiling water over the stove and spills it on himself, he will be severely burned by scalding.

Steam burn

Steam burns are extremely dangerous and can be considerably more serious than scald burns. This is because the water has a maximum temperature in the liquid state.

Water is not the only liquid that causes scalding, but it is the most common. When it exceeds 100 ºC, it evaporates. There is no water much above this temperature, but what about steam? Steam, technically, has no limit. As long as it can be heated, it will be.

Usually, this type of burn does not happen in the kitchen, where the steam is not that hot. But in certain situations it can be at extremely high temperatures. Steam pipes, for example, can reach extremely high and dangerous temperatures.

Abrasion burn

Friction of the skin with other objects can cause burns through the generation of heat after contact. It is especially common when the object is rough, creating an abrasion burn.

It can happen if you rub the skin on sandpaper, but the most common way of this type of burn is through motorcycle, bicycle, skateboard, roller and other accidents.

When the skin is not completely removed by rubbing, it is burned. It is the main reason for wearing jackets on motorcyclists. In the event of a fall, the fabric protects the skin from friction with the asphalt.

Contact burn

Burns that happen due to contact with a hot surface are frequent in the kitchen. Touching a hot pot can cause this type of injury.

Flame burn

The fire varies in temperature based on the material that is burning.

That flame in the kitchen stove, which is based on butane gas, can reach 400 ºC. A candle, which burns with paraffin, can reach 600 ºC. Striking a match can cause it to momentarily reach 750 ºC and magnesium, when burning, reaches up to 2000 ºC.

At any of these temperatures, if you touch the flame too long, you will burn yourself. The hotter the flame, the greater and faster the damage.

Cold burn

Burning of cold seems strange, doesn’t it? But it does happen. Just like the one caused by heat, this is a thermal burn.

Whenever two materials with different temperatures meet, they exchange heat, seeking balance. It is as if they wanted to stay at the same temperature.

When we feel something hot, what is happening is that we touch something higher than our body and are absorbing thermal energy.

The feeling of cold is nothing more than the feeling of losing heat (thermal energy) to some material – a piece of cold iron or the air, it makes no difference.

Our body produces its own heat, trying to stay at approximately 36.5 ºC. If the environment is too cold and the body cannot produce enough heat to compensate, it loses too much energy.

Seeking to protect the most important parts of the body – organs and brain -, blood flow is reduced in the extremities and centralized in the trunk and head.

With that, the fingers start to lose more heat to the environment, without recovering. This transfer of thermal energy can freeze the tissues, which leads to injuries. That’s how you get a cold burn.

Radiation burn

Radiation is the propagation of energy through particles or electromagnetic waves. It is the way the heat of the sun arrives here through the vacuum of space.


The sun is far away. Far away . 149 million and 600 thousand kilometers away separate our star from our planet, but that doesn’t stop it from causing serious burns.

Its surface can reach 15 million degrees Celsius, a value hot enough to burn us even from so far away. This heat crosses the distance through the photons, the light, which behaves both as a wave and as a particle. Ultraviolet rays are responsible for most sunburn.

Sunburns rarely get as severe as other types, but you need to be careful because that doesn’t mean they are not serious. Overdoing it in the sun can also lead to heat stroke and dehydration.

Tanning booths

Tanning booths use artificial ultraviolet light to tan the skin. Burns can be similar to sunburn. However, as the amount of UV rays can be greater in the machine than in the sun, burns can be much more serious in these cabins.


Radiation therapy is a type of treatment performed on cancer patients to prevent tumor cells from growing. It consists of bombarding the tumor and its area with radiation, eliminating the cells.

In order for the minimum number of healthy cells to be affected, radiation is applied from several different angles to each session, ensuring that the tumor is reached from all sides several times.

If the tissue is hit by too much radiation, it burns, just as it does when the sun hits the skin.


X-ray is a type of radiation used to perform imaging tests. When this radiation is received by the body for a long time, the cells begin to show signs of burning.

Chemical burns

Chemical burns happen when there is contact with chemicals that damage the skin. This is the case with acids and so-called alkali.

Alkali are, for the purposes of illustration, the opposite of acids. They have a high pH and are called bases.

Most cases of chemical burns occur due to contact with hydrochloric acid  or with alkali sodium hydroxide , the chemical name of caustic soda.

Acids have an immediate effect while alkali can give the impression that nothing has happened, causing a slower burn.

This type of burn rarely results in death, but it is a possibility when it affects a large part of the body.

Electrical burns

Burning by electricity is considered serious to any degree. This is because electricity causes heat to pass through the body in different ways than when there is contact with something hot.

In the vast majority of burns, as in the case of scalding, heat affects the skin first and, as it gets more serious, it affects the inside of the body.

The effect of burns usually occurs from the outside to the inside, increasing the area of ​​penetration based on the time of exposure to heat.

Electricity is different. When taking a shock, the electric current enters the body through the contact point and seeks the fastest way to the ground. If you touch your finger on an electrical cable, it will enter through your hand and out through your foot. Everything in the way will be affected.

For the electric current, passing through the skin may be easier, but this is not a rule, and the longer the contact lasts and the more electricity is present, the more organs are affected.

A burn by electricity can appear, from the outside, to cause internal damage without showing signs on the surface. There is a risk that internal organs will get burned too and that is why it is considered serious in any case. If the skin has burned, nothing prevents the organs from having burned as well.

Degrees of burns

Burns can be defined in degrees, according to their depth . The deeper the damage caused by them, the greater the degree and the more severe the condition.

First degree

First degree burns represent the majority of cases. Under these conditions, only the epidermis, the superficial layer, suffers damage. The result is usually a reddish and burning skin.

Sunburns are usually first degree, as is contact with too hot water, for example, in the bath. Medical care is rarely necessary for this type of burn. It heals on its own in a few days and is usually dry.

High school

Second-degree burns are still frequent, however more serious and may require medical attention. They affect, in addition to the epidermis, the dermis, which is the deepest layer of the skin.

It can be divided into two types, the superficial second degree burn , which affects only the external part of the dermis, and the deep , which affects the entire dermis and is close to the third degree burn.

The burn is moist and there is often the formation of blisters that can leave scars. When superficial and with a small area of ​​effect, treatment can be done at home, but in cases of deep second degree burn, going to the doctor is necessary.

Third degree

Third degree burns completely destroy the skin. Interestingly, they are the ones that cause the least pain at the moment, as the nerves are burned and stop sending pain signals to the brain.

It is important to note that it is an extremely severe burn and it is necessary to go to the hospital as soon as possible to avoid infections and not to let the damage spread. Although contact with the source has been interrupted, the fabric is still very hot and may still be burning.

In addition, third-degree burns do not heal on their own  and medical treatment is required.

Fourth grade

Fourth degree burns are the most serious type of burn. While the other classifications mainly affect the skin, the fourth grade goes further. Skin, muscles, tendons and even bones can be burned by this type of burn.

When this happens, the skin tissue is usually charred, as well as part of the subcutaneous tissue. Usually this type of burn is found in victims of fires that have not managed to escape from the flames.

Burn extension

In addition to degrees, burns can be classified into severity based on the extent. Normally, first-degree burns do not fall into this classification and are almost always mild.

Each part of the body represents a certain percentage. The classifications are as follows:

  • Head: 9%;
  • Arms: 9% each;
  • Legs: 18% each;
  • Posterior trunk: 18%;
  • Previous change: 18%;
  • Genitals: 1%;

When a part of the body is only partially burned, the measurement can be made based on the palm of the hand. The palm of the hand is considered to represent 1% of the body surface.

That is, if only part of the back is burned, measuring how many times the palm area has been affected serves as an approximation of the percentage affected. If an area equivalent to 8 palms is burned on the back, 8% of the body is burned.

Bearing in mind that sunburn can be classified as mild even if more than 50% of the body is affected, as it is a type of burn that is hardly severe enough and dehydration is usually life-threatening before the burn damage progresses. enough.

Usually, the two classifications, by extension and by depth, are done together to define how severe a burn is. Burns can be:


The mild burn affects less than 10% of the body surface. Patients are called small burns and these cases are not considered an emergency.


In the average burn, between 10% and 20% of the body extension is burned. The severity of this type of burn is higher and there must be medical attention. The exception is sunburn.


Patients who are victims of severe burns are called “major burns”. There are more specific definitions, but generally it can be considered that more than 20% of the burned body surface defines a severe burn. Under these conditions, medical care is necessary.

Big burns

Major burners are those who suffer burns of high severity . In order to be classified in this way, the Federal Council of Medicine dictates that one of the following situations must be present:

  • Children under 12 with more than 15% of the body with second  degree burns ;
  • Over 12 years of age with more than 20% of the body with second  degree burns ;
  • Children under 12 with more than 5% of the body with third  degree burns ;
  • Over 12 years of age with more than 10% of the body with third  degree burns ;
  • Second or third  degree burns affecting the region of the perineum, the region between the genitalia and the anus;
  • Third degree burns affecting the hand, foot, face, neck or armpit;
  • Burns by electric current.

In the same way, people whose burns of any length are related to:

  • Fractures;
  • Inhalation injuries;
  • Politraumas;
  • Head trauma;
  • Shock;
  • Renal insufficiency;
  • Cardiac insufficiency;
  • Liver failure;
  • Coagulation disorders;
  • Pulmonary embolism;
  • Heart attack;
  • Infections;
  • Diabetes;
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome;
  • Diseases that cause great weight loss (endocrine dysfunction, anorexia);

People who fit these characteristics should receive emergency care because there is a risk to life.

Burns in children

Children are the main victims of burns. According to the Brazilian Society of Burns (SBQ), they represent more than 2/3 of the victims of this type of injury in Brazil.

The second leading cause of hospitalization for children aged 1 to 4 years is burn (behind only falls), and the fifth leading cause of death among children aged 5 to 9 years involves burns, the main means of which is scalding , which happens when boiling liquids are spilled on the body.

Soups, water, oil, coffee, tea, any of these liquids can be hot enough to burn. A curious child can pull out a pan, bowl or towel and spill the hot liquid on his or her body, causing serious burns that need to be treated in a hospital.

Unprotected outlets are also a risk, as young children can shove objects inside them, causing electric shocks that can cause burns and death.

Be sure to keep an eye on children, especially when there are liquids nearby or anything flammable.

Causal agents

Although of course most burns are caused by heat sources, there are reasons why people come into contact with them. Some of the main reasons are as follows:


Burns are often caused by aggression, especially in abusive relationships. The victim may be slow to reveal that it was the partner who caused the burn. Revenge for treason also appears to be grounds for fire assaults.

Electric shock

Being electrocuted is a way to get serious burns. Touching bare wires, a fallen electrical network or being careless with any situation involving electricity can cause this type of burn. It happens to children who put metallic objects in the socket, for example.


Fires are a frequent cause of severe burns. A burning room can catch fire quickly due to the flashover effect , a sudden ignition of the room.

When there is a high fire in a closed room, the environment can get very hot. Flames of fire can hide in the smoke that accumulates in the ceiling and even this smoke can contain a lot of unburned fuel.

When the room temperature reaches the ignition temperature (temperature at which things catch fire) of the objects in the room or the fuel accumulated in the smoke, the flashover takes place , which ignites the entire room in a matter of seconds with a strong, hot fire.

A sign that the  flashover  is about to happen is the sudden rise in temperature, but it happens quickly and it is not always possible to escape in time.


Explosions are the most common cause of burns in adults. Situations like barbecues usually lead to this type of burn. When someone throws alcohol on the coals, the flame reaches the bottle and explodes in the person’s hand, which ends up severely burned, as well as anyone nearby.

It can also happen that a person is burned by explosion through fireworks, for example, among other situations.


Burns are usually clear and diagnosable by the person himself. The symptoms are as follows:


The burning pain is especially severe while the heat source is still on the skin, but after it is removed, the pain is mild and the burning is uncomfortable and strong.

In the case of third-degree burns, pain is no longer felt, as nerve endings are destroyed by heat.

The destruction of the tissue is extremely painful and will not go away until the destruction of the nerves occurs or the heat source is removed.


Especially in first-degree burns, the skin is reddish. In second and third degree burns, in the vicinity of the destroyed region, there is also redness, as well as in the dermis, which is below the blisters.


Blisters are found in second-degree burns and occur when the dermis, the second layer of the skin, is damaged by temperature. The dermis and epidermis separate and a liquid builds up between them.

When this type of burn is small, it is not necessary to go to the hospital, but care must be taken not to burst the blisters as this opens the way for bacteria to cause infections, in addition to causing more noticeable scarring.


Inflammation can cause swelling in the burned area, as well as reactions to heat.


Burned skin areas are sensitive. Contacts with rough surfaces, scratches and pressure can cause pain, as well as high temperatures. Hot or even warm baths tend to be especially uncomfortable in burned people.


The skin absorbs heat and you can feel it warm even after the heat source has been removed. It is one of the reasons why it is important to keep the burn under running water for several minutes. This causes the temperature of the region to be reduced more quickly, preventing further damage from happening.


Heat can cause dehydration and when the burns are extensive, a lot of water can be lost. It is important that the burn victim is hydrated, but care must be taken if the person’s throat is burned, which can happen through the inhalation of hot smoke. In such cases, medical help is needed.

What is the treatment?

The treatment of burns varies according to the degree and extent and can be performed by several professionals, the main ones being the dermatologist , who takes care of the skin, the pulmonologist , who is the specialist responsible for the airways, and the general practitioner , who can perform the initial assessment.


Bathing is a painful time for patients with major third-degree burns. Burnt skin can start to rot and this attracts and encourages the multiplication of bacteria.

For this reason, it is necessary to clean the burns thoroughly, often accompanied by skin scraping.

Many burners say that this is always the worst time of the day, since the wounds, which are sensitive, need to be washed directly with sponges, soap and water. This removes dead skin and cleanses the area, preventing infections. Anesthetics and pain relievers may be needed in these cases.


Skin grafts are nothing more than skin transplants  . When a very large area is burned, healing is impossible, so a graft is needed to ensure that the wound will close and that the scar tissue has a place to be fixed.

The skin used can come from three sources: from the patient himself, from a donor or from another species.

The first is usually more easily accepted by the body. Deceased donors are also used, but the immune system rejects this tissue after a few weeks. The thighs and the buttocks are usually the regions where the skin is removed, when possible, since they represent the largest area of ​​the body.

It is possible to remove the dermis and epidermis or just the dermis. In the first case, vascularization of the transplanted region is expected for recovery.

Because there is difficulty in this revascularization, this type of transplant is usually done on burns that affect smaller areas. The advantage of this type of graft is that the skin transplanted in this way presents a better aesthetic and functional result. Therefore, the use in burns on the face is common.

In the case of transplantation only of the dermis, vascularization is easier, since the layer is smaller. Therefore, larger areas can be covered.

In addition, there is the advantage that the epidermis grows again in the donor region, since the dermis was maintained. The dermis-only transplant can also be temporary, used as a biological dressing.

When a very large area is burned and there is not enough skin to perform the graft, the tissue can be transformed into a mesh that then covers a larger area. Although the result is less aesthetic, it is a possibility in case of emergencies.

Animal skin can also be used as a biological dressing. Often the skin used belongs to the pig, an animal that is very similar to the human being, biologically speaking. However, Brazilian researchers began to work with the idea of ​​using tilapia skin for this.

After being treated for approximately 20 days, the tilapia skin can be placed over the wound, where it adheres easily and covers the wound, protecting it from infections, loss of fluids and proteins , which would make healing difficult. The treatment is not yet available to the general public because it is undergoing tests for approval by ANVISA.

Oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy consists of increasing the amount of oxygen available to the cells. It is possible to do this by placing the patient in a pressurized chamber, which increases the absorption of oxygen from the lungs. You have to be careful, because if you overdo it, too high blood pressure can cause problems.

When properly applied, the cells receive more oxygen and are able to work more efficiently, accelerating the healing of burns and grafts.

Compression clothing

Compression garments can be worn after a graft is applied to ensure that the skin does not blister and does not allow it to move out of place while healing takes place.

This type of clothing must be made for each individual case, since the pressure exerted by them must be precise.

Aesthetically, it is not the most pleasant option, especially when it needs to be used on the face. It is an expensive product and has a short lifespan since after a while, the pressure is no longer the same.

Synthetic skin

Synthetic skins are dressings that can be used to improve the healing process. They take on the function of the skin while healing does not occur, protecting the wound from infections and loss of fluid, keeping the temperature stable.

The problem with this treatment is that, although extremely efficient, it is very expensive. Tens of thousands of dollars can be spent to cover large parts of a body.


Most deaths due to burns do not happen because of thermal damage, but because of the destruction of the skin. Without the skin, our body is defenseless against the microorganisms that live in the environment and we are susceptible to severe infections until the skin heals.

The bigger the burn, the more difficult it is to protect the body from infections. Therefore, antibiotics are used preventively. Without them, infections are certain.

Plastic surgery

When there is extensive damage to the patient’s skin, it is possible to use plastic surgery to improve the aesthetics or even functionality of the skin. You can remove scars and reconstruct parts of a face, for example.

In 2015 there was the biggest face transplant surgery in the world and it was performed on a burn victim, fireman Patrick Hardison, who had his face completely disfigured by a fire in 2001.

The face was donated by cyclist David Rodebaugh, who died in a bicycle accident. The surgery replaced Patrick’s entire face and, although the difference between post-surgery and a face that didn’t suffer damage was clear, the improvement was enormous.


The treatment for fourth-degree burns is the same as for third-degree burns, but there are cases where little can be done to save a limb, for example.

If a third-degree burn occurs on someone’s leg, a few months of treatment will resolve if there are no serious infections.

Someone who suffers a fourth degree burn on the leg is likely to have to amputate it, since tissue recovery is unlikely and keeping the tissue dead can initiate a necrosis process, which can cause severe infections and lead to death.

Home treatment

Sunburn that affects especially small areas can be treated at home.

First-degree burns can also be treated at home, even those caused by the sun and which affect large areas.

First, it is important to cool the burned area. Put it under running water at room or cold temperature (but do not overdo it in the cold) for at least five minutes. Do not use ice . This can cause cold burns, and the very sudden temperature difference can further damage the skin.

Ointments can be used for first-degree burns. They help to moisturize burned skin and soothe it. Ointments indicated for burns often have painkillers.

If the pain is very severe, medications can be used to reduce it.

You can even put a loose bandage over the burn to protect it. Do not squeeze too hard to make the pain or the condition of the skin worse.

Some more severe cases may require medical treatment, such as first-degree burns on the genitals and in very large areas such as almost the entire body. Remember to hydrate yourself after any major burn.

Do not try to treat chemical or electrical burns at home . Even if small or that do not appear to be severe, burns should be seen by a doctor. Also, don’t blister, as this paves the way for bacteria and can leave scars.

First aid

First aid for any type of burn involves cooling the burn, protecting the region, hydrating the patient and, when necessary, taking him to the hospital.

Cool the burn

The faster this is done, the better. Cold water should be added to the  burn to reduce skin temperature and relieve pain. It is important that clothing that may come into contact with the injury is removed to prevent it from sticking to it.

First degree burns should be under water for 5 to 10 minutes. High school requires more time, with a minimum of 10 minutes. Third-degree burns require 20 minutes of water, but medical attention is also required.

Calling an ambulance is important if it is a large area burn.

Do not use any  substance other than specific ointments for burns, as they can make the situation worse.

Wash chemical burn

Rinsing the chemical burn must be done carefully while it is being cooled. At least 20 minutes in running water are required.

The chemical that caused the burn must be completely removed. Take care not to let it spread to other parts of the skin.

Remove the source of electricity in electrical burns

Do not touch an unconscious person who has just received a shock, the electric current may be present. Be sure to disconnect the source of electricity and, if this is not possible, remove the cable or object that serves as the source.

Do this with wooden or rubber objects, never metal or your own hands.

Protect the burn

Burn ointments can be applied and loosely applied gauze protection can help protect the area.

If the burn is very extensive and severe, take care to remove anything that might stick to the injury and call an ambulance.

Deite e role!

If your clothes catch on fire, lie down and roll on the floor, preferably on the ground, but don’t run . Fire needs three things: fuel, heat and oxygen.

When your clothes catch on fire, a source of heat caused it. The tissue serves as fuel and oxygen is around it. Running will add more oxygen  to the fire, making it hotter and stronger.

So running is not a good idea, but lying down and rolling. This can muffle the fire when the clothing comes in contact with the floor, taking its oxygen and facilitating the process of extinguishing it.

If you see someone with clothes on fire, do not let them run and try to cover them with a blanket or heavy coat, trying to smother the flames.

What not to do?

Some things  should not be done with burns.

Do not use ice

Cooling the burn is important, but ice can be dangerous. The very large difference in temperature can cause more tissue damage. Cold water is ideal for cooling the skin.

Do not use homemade recipes

Butter, olive oil, toothpaste, coffee powder, milk, egg white, do not use any of this . Many of these substances can worsen the injury, as they will dry out and / or stick to the burn, and some of them can remove water from the tissue or facilitate an infection.

When to look for a specialized burn center?

The guidelines of the Brazilian Medical Association and the Federal Council of Medicine indicate that a burn victim should be treated at a specialized burn center in cases of:

  • Second degree burns with more than 10% of the affected body area;
  • Burning of the face, hand, foot, genitalia, perineum, neck or large joint (armpit, elbow, wrist, knee, ankle or lame-femoral);
  • Any third degree burn;
  • Burns from electricity, including lightning;
  • Any chemical burn;
  • Inhalation injury;
  • Burns with medical problems that can hinder or prolong treatment or increase the mortality rate;
  • Patients with severe burns and trauma at the same time (such as fractures). A doctor’s decision about the immediate severity of the trauma must be taken into account;
  • Burnt children.

These guidelines must be followed by doctors, but for the patient or relatives, the correct place to take someone who suffers any of these types of burns is the hospital, in the emergency department, or Emergency Care Units (UPAs) that attend emergencies .

Where to find centers?

The Pro-Queimados Institute website has a list of burn centers that serve each state. You can find it by clicking here .

Ointments for burns

Ointments are indicated to refresh the skin and help with healing. They are mainly used to treat first degree burns, unless explicitly indicated for other degrees by the doctor.

Some of the ointments that can be used for burns are:

  • Bepantol ;
  • Nebacetin ;
  • Esperson .


Certain medications can be used to relieve and treat burns. Pain medications may also be recommended, especially in more serious cases. When an antibiotic is prescribed, only the doctor can indicate which is the most suitable.

Some of the painkillers are:

  • Ibuprofen ;
  • Tylenol.


NEVER  self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Living together

Burns, especially the most serious ones, leave scars, both physical and emotional.

Dealing with the appearance of the affected region after treatment – and even during it – can be traumatizing, not to mention the pain caused by the treatment processes, the baths and the fire itself.

Some measures can help to tackle the problem:

Psychological monitoring

Psychological counseling is essential to ensure that the trauma does not weigh too much for the burned person. The modified appearance may also require this type of treatment. Remember, it is not a shame to need help.


Hygiene is very necessary during treatment, as any bacteria that enter the wounds can lead to serious consequences.

Avoid the sun

New skin can be easily damaged by the sun, so it is recommended to avoid it, as well as other situations that are aggressive to the skin. The sunscreen is also a great friend at these times, as it prevents blemishes when possible and protects new and sensitive skin.


The prognosis depends on the severity of the burn. The higher the grade, the more serious it is.

1st degree

First-degree burns usually resolve themselves and easily. They sting and annoy, but within a week you can expect them to be completely healed, sometimes with peeling skin.

2nd degree

Second-degree burns can be treated at home when they are not deep or very extensive. In these cases, as long as the blisters are not burst, in two to three weeks you can expect them to be completely healed and often without leaving a scar.

When the blisters are burst, the risk of infection and scarring is increased, but with proper care and hygiene, it is still possible to treat at home.

Burns that affect a large area or are very deep may require medical attention, but in general the treatment is no more than a month.

3rd grade

Third degree burns are serious and dangerous. Scars are a certainty. Infections can affect the patient at any time and the most that doctors can do in this regard is to administer antibiotics.

When there are burns in the airways, the patient needs to be intubated and the baths can be excruciating.

2500 people die each year in Brazil as a result of burns and most of them are due to infection.

However, with proper treatment, the chances of survival are greatly increased. This treatment can last up to an entire year or more, depending on the extent of the burn.


Burns are not easy and some complications can arise as a result of them. Are they:


Fire, especially when it causes third degree burns, leads to unpleasant and often extensive scarring. Especially in third degree cases, scarring is inevitable.

Falling of the immune system

Due to the amount of dead tissue, there can be serious inflammation, which makes the work of the immune system difficult and reduces immunity.


The openings that burns cause on the skin can lead to sepsis . Sepsis is the name given to generalized infection, which happens when the whole body is infected by bacteria.

With the main defense that we have against microorganisms – the skin – damaged, it can be extremely difficult to prevent bacteria from infecting us and equally difficult to survive them, since the immune system is weakened.

Infections are the leading cause of death in severe burn patients who arrive at the hospital.

Low self-esteem

Self- esteem can be affected. Especially when severe damage to the face, burns can cause psychological problems in the patient, in addition to balancing his self-confidence and his mood.

Posttraumatic stress disorder

Traumatic experiences like being in a fire or receiving severe burns from any source can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychological condition that can bring flashbacks  to trauma, as well as agitation, panic attacks, depression , nightmares and suicidal thoughts.


Depression can arise as a result of other complications. The patient may lose the joy of living after a major trauma.

Permanent damage

Fire can damage regions such as the eyes, melt ears, eyelids and mouth, and, in cases where there are fourth degree burns, it can destroy entire limbs such as legs, hands or arms.

These damages cannot be resolved with conventional treatment.

Inhalation injury

When air or smoke is sucked in, there may be burns in the airways and lungs, making breathing difficult or impeded. This is extremely dangerous and requires the patient’s intubation.

Death from fluid loss

A patient with very extensive burns has already lost a lot of water and, with parts of the skin missing, continues to lose it to the environment. With 70% of the body burned, it may be necessary to drink up to 10 liters of water in a single day to compensate for the loss.

The leading cause of burn deaths can be infection, but it takes some time to happen. In the first 48 hours, the danger of running out of water in the body is more urgent.

How to prevent burns?

Burns are often caused by inattention. Carelessness at the time of the barbecue, when handling electricity, chemicals or taking care of children.

Lack of attention can have serious consequences and even death when dealing with things that can burn. It may seem that we, as a species, dominate fire, but we must remember that it is only under control and it is easy to lose it.

Here are some measures that can prevent accidents:

  • Don’t play with matches;
  • Beware of gas cylinders;
  • Do not tamper with kites that are attached to the light strings;
  • Keep away from campfires;
  • Do not release balloons;
  • Be careful with fireworks;
  • Be careful with very hot baths;
  • Carefully extinguish cigarettes.

In addition, some other attitudes can prevent burns. Are they:

Watch children

Most burns occur in young children. They don’t know that if hot water falls on them, it will hurt. They don’t know how dangerous the fire can be.

Watching and teaching is the best thing to do, especially when there is a fire nearby.

Beware of flammable liquids

If most of the burns occur in children, everything else makes adults a victim. And of these, many are hit by flammable liquids. Rekindling the fireplace or the barbecue by throwing alcohol directly on the coals is simply not a good idea.

It is important to follow the instructions on the packaging and keep the alcohol as far away from the fire as possible. On a hot day, simple proximity can cause an explosion. The same applies to kerosene, gasoline and other flammable liquids.

How to prevent fires?

Fires cause extremely serious burns, in addition to material losses. Some things can be done to prevent this type of accident. Between them:

Don’t play with fire

Literally, playing with fire is a surefire way to start a fire. Any mistake can cause it to get out of control and burn much more than it is intended to burn. This can result in the loss of a home or a life.

Keep the campfire area clean

If it is necessary to start a fire, make sure that there is a safe area without flammable materials in the vicinity of it.

Have a fire extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are the best way to end small fires before they spread. If the fire is too big for a fire extinguisher to put it out, firefighters should be called and the house evacuated.

Also remember to use the correct extinguisher. Fire caused by oil or gasoline can be spread by a water extinguisher, just as fires caused by the electrical network or electronic devices can lead to short circuits if water is used, which is also dangerous. The right thing for these cases is to use the chemical extinguisher.

Do not leave flammable liquids within the reach of children

Children are curious by nature and the fire can be charming for one. Leaving flammable materials close to children can be dangerous as they may not understand the dangers that fire poses.

Burns are serious injuries that, when severe, can lead to death. Lesions can also take a long time to heal, often leaving scars.

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