How to Treat a Second Degree Burn

A second degree burn reaches through the epidermis to damage the dermis below. If the second degree burn is over a small area, less than three inches in diameter, first aid can be performed at home, explains For second degree burns covering a large patch of skin or burns over multiple areas of the body, emergency medical assistance is necessary to properly treat the burn.

Identify the degree and size of the burn. Second degree burns can be identified by noting that the burn has developed blisters and is very painful. The skin typically appears red and splotchy and the area may swell.

Wash your hands before attempting any first aid on a second degree burn. Hand washing prevents exposing the burn to dirt, debris or bacteria.

Place the burned area under cool water--not cold water--for 10 to 15 minutes. Soaking the area in cool water or using a cool compress is okay, too, if the area is difficult to immerse in flowing water.

Place a sterile gauze bandage loosely over the burn. Wrap or tape the bandage loosely to prevent it from sticking to the burn.

Take an aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to ease the pain. All of these are available over the counter at drugstores and pharmacies.

Leave the burn alone for 24 hours before changing the dressing or checking on the wound. Removing the bandage repeatedly can expose the area to further damage and infection.

Change the bandage daily and check the burned area at each dressing change to look for any signs of infection. Redness, swelling or pus may indicate that the wound has become infected. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a doctor to have the infection treated. If the bandage sticks to the burn, you can soak it in cool water first to release it before trying to remove it.

Use sunscreen on the area every time you go out in the sun for at least a year after the initial injury. A previously burned area will remain particularly sensitive to sunlight for months after it has healed.