Thermal burns: type, treatment and prevention

Skin burn on arm wrapped in bandage

Olà, Dr Joy here!

Today we’re going to talk about those little surprises that life throws at us when our skin decides to play with fire… literally!
As you can imagine, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about Thermal Burns.

Vamos !

DEFINITION of a burn:

Thermal burns are painful lesions that can be caused by a variety of factors, such as heat, friction, chemicals, electricity or even the sun. They are common and can vary in severity from mild to potentially fatal.

Understanding the different types of thermal burns, knowing how to treat them correctly and taking preventative measures can help minimise the risks and promote rapid healing. In this article, we’ll look at the different aspects of thermal burns.


There are several different types of burns

1) First-degree burns: These burns only affect the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). They are characterised by redness, pain and increased sensitivity to touch. Sunburns and friction burns are common examples. They can usually be managed at home.

2) Second-degree burns: These can be subdivided into two categories and usually require inspection by a doctor:

  • Superficial second-degree burns: These burns affect both the epidermis and the intermediate layer of the skin (the superficial dermis). They are characterised by blistering, intense pain and redness.
  • Deep second-degree burns: These penetrate deeper into the dermis and are characterised by larger blisters, intense pain and a whitish or brown skin colour.

3) Third-degree burns: These are the most serious burns and affect all layers of the skin, including the underlying tissues. The skin may appear charred or white. Third-degree burns can lead to a loss of sensation due to the destruction of nerve endings. As far as treatment is concerned, there is no doubt about it; it’s best to go straight to A&E.


The treatment of thermal burns depends on their severity.

For burns that are more than a simple sunburn, or for second- and third-degree burns that often appear as open sores or blisters, medical attention is required. Do not puncture blisters or apply home remedies to such burns. And wait for the health professional’s (doctor’s or nurse’s) verdict.

On the other hand, if the burn only seems to be superficial, here are some general measures to take:

1) Cool the burn: Place the burned area under cold running water for at least 10 minutes to reduce the heat and relieve the pain. Do not use ice directly on the burned skin.
2) Cover the burn: Use a clean, dry bandage to cover the burn. This reduces the risk of infection and protects the affected skin.
3) Use painkillers: Over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol can be used to relieve pain.


Prevention is the key to avoiding skin burns. Here are a few tips to reduce the risks:

1) Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun without adequate protection, such as hats, protective clothing and the use of sun cream.
2) Be careful with hot liquids: keep children away from hot saucepans, use insulated oven gloves and take care when handling boiling liquids.
3) Handle chemicals with care: When using corrosive chemicals, make sure you wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated environment.


Thermal burns are common injuries that can cause pain and potentially serious complications. It is essential to be aware of the different types of burn and how to treat them correctly. What’s more, taking preventative measures can help avoid them. In the event of a serious burn, it is important to consult a health professional for appropriate treatment.

Remember, prevention is the best approach to avoiding burns. Be aware of your environment and take the appropriate safety measures to protect your skin from damage caused by heat, chemicals and other risk factors for burns.



This information is not a substitute for medical advice. You must seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health condition.

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