Burns FAQ

What are the symptoms, types, causes, and effective treatment of burns? We’ve collected the most frequently asked questions.

What Is Considered To Be A Burn?

A burn happens when you have tissue damage, usually after your contact with heat or extreme cold.

How Are Burns Classified?

  • First-degree burns are rather superficial burns compared to other burns. They cause minor pain and reddening of the epidermis (the outermost of the three layers making up the skin).
  • Second-degree burns are partial-thickness burns. It means they affect the epidermis and the dermis. They cause blistering, as well as redness, pain, and swelling.
  • Third-degree burns are full-thickness burns. They go through the dermis and affect deeper tissues. As a result, you can see white or blackened, charred skin that is also numb.
  • Fourth-degree burns can even affect bones and muscles, as well as your nerve endings. That’s why there’s no feeling in the burned area.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Burn?

The symptoms depend on the cause and degree of burn:

  • 1st-degree burns — no blisters yet, but red and painful skin;
  • 2nd-degree burns — blisters, swelling, red and painful skin;
  • 3rd-degree burns —charred, deep red, white or black skin. Such burns might bring a lot of pain but could be numb;
  • 4th-degree burns — no feeling in the affected area because the skin tissue is completely destroyed.

When Does Shock Happen?

If the burn is severe, some people may go into shock. Its symptoms may include a drop in alertness, pale and clammy skin, weakness, as well as bluish lips and fingernails.

What Causes Burns?

The most common kinds of burns are thermal. They happen when hot metals, scalding liquids, flames or steam come into contact with your skin. Here are a few more things that can cause burns:

  • Heated objects
  • Electricity
  • Chemicals
  • Friction
  • The sun
  • radiation

There is also an ice burn which occurs when ice or something very cold comes into direct contact with your skin for a long period of time.

How Do Burns Heal?

Minor burns (by that, we mean the first and second types) heal much the same way cuts do. Often you can see a blister formed on the injured area. Under the blister, white blood cells attack the bacteria, and a new skin layer covers the affected area from the edges of the burn.

It can be dangerous if your burn is very large and deep. The new skin cannot grow quickly enough to keep the bacteria out, and it provokes infection.

What To Expect During The Healing Process:

Different skin colour after a burn injury

The area of burnt skin may become bright red and inflamed. This redness will gradually decrease as the skin matures but it may take up to 18 months.

Burn scars

Scarring across a body joint can limit movement of that area of the body because of the ongoing healing process. Your body responds to the loss of skin by making your wound smaller. It is possible to gain back motion through therapy when the skin on both sides of the joint grows together.

Post-burn sensations

When a burn injury damages the nerve endings, your nerves will need some time to regrow. The sense of touch may be affected till this regrowth period finishes. Because the touch sensation is experienced via the skin, the areas that have nerve damage might be less sensitive to touch.


It occurs when the healing elements of the skin are destroyed and are not available to cover the wound. The skin surrounding the wound actually becomes smaller as the wound heals. The contraction process results in the loss of normal movement in the affected areas. Still, rehabilitation therapy restores near-normal movement to the contracted areas.

Perspiration (sweating)

A burn injury may result in the damage of sweat glands on the skin, as well as blood vessels. These blood vessels are surrounded by scar tissue and can’t expand and contract properly surrounded by the scar tissue. Sweat glands can’t moisturise the skin. Because of these changes, abnormal sweating and itching are often encountered.

How To Treat A Burn?

The treatment depends on the burn degree. The first two burn degrees usually get better on their own, but third- and fourth-degree burns need medical attention straight away.

Third, second and first degrees

  • Third-degree burns need intensive treatment with intravenous antibiotics to prevent infection or fluids from replacing the fluids lost.
  • Second-degree burns are typically treated with antibiotic ointments prescribed by a doctor.
  • First-degree burns can be treated with skin care products.

When the healing process has already taken place and new skin has appeared, these skin products might help you to fade burn scars:

  • Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an all-natural compound that has no psychoactive effects, unlike another cannabinoid, THC. CBD lotion, balm or face cream is a great option for everyone who wants to test out cannabis products for burns. CBD cream is known to be effective with pain relief and inflammation. Cannabis compounds don’t enter the bloodstream unless you are placing them on an open wound. When any CBD topical is applied to closed-skin injuries, these compounds will stay on top of the skin.
  • Aloe vera gel. It is famous for containing a number of biologically-active compounds like fatty acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Fatty acids, like campesterol and lupeol, are responsible for anti-inflammatory activities in the body. Vitamins A, C, and E act as antioxidants and can help prevent free radicals from causing damage to molecules in the body. Enzymes reduce inflammation from skin contracture. Laxatives give the plant antibacterial properties.

Fourth degree

  • Call an emergency.
  • Get the injured person away from the cause of the burn.
  • Check if this person is breathing. If not, start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation straight away.
  • Take off the jewellery and clothes that might keep them from moving freely.
  • Cover the burnt area with a washcloth (cool and clean) or a slightly wet bandage.
  • Raise the affected area above heart level (if you can).

If you notice any signs of shock, try raising their feet and legs a bit.