man with burn injury

How to Care for a Burn Injury

Burns are one of the most painful injuries a person can suffer, and they can lead to a host of secondary and sometimes life-threatening complications. If you or a loved one have been burned, obtaining immediate medical treatment is essential to preventing these problems. It may even be necessary to save a life. Here are some tips for how to care for a burn injury.

Treatment for Burn Injuries

First, assess what type of burn is involved. The nature and degree of the burn will affect what sort of medical treatments will be needed.


A minor, first-degree burn can usually be treated with first aid at home. Because this burn affects the top layer of skin, most victims will see healing within 7-10 days without scarring. But just to be safe, follow these treatment recommendations:

  • Soak the burn in cool water or a cool, wet compress for 5-10 minutes
  • Apply lidocaine (an anesthetic) or petroleum jelly to soothe the skin
  • Protect the burned area with an antibiotic ointment and loose gauze
  • For pain relief, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen


More serious second–degree burns may require professional medical attention. The victim might also need to see a burn center or a specialist for proper treatment. The major risk with second-degree burns is infection. Keeping the burn area clean and applying proper bandages is essential to avoid this. Some victims require skin grafts, depending on how large an area was burned.

Second-degree burns can often be treated, at least initially, with home care. This includes:

  • Running cool water over the burned area for at least 15 minutes
  • Applying antibiotic ointments to blisters to prevent infections
  • Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief

However, emergency treatment may be needed if the burn affects a large area. If you have any doubts as to whether emergency or other professional treatment is needed, err on the side of caution and see a doctor.


Third-degree burns are the most serious type and will require immediate, possibly life-saving medical treatment. These often damage nerves and therefore may not cause pain in the immediate area of the burn. A third-degree burn victim should never attempt to treat one of these injuries him- or herself, as serious infection, scarring, blood loss, shock, and even death could result. Call 911 and follow the responder’s instructions for how to stabilize the victim until medical assistance arrives.

After the initial treatment for any burn injury, the victim could be facing the following medical care:

  • Treatment for dehydration
  • Burn creams and ointments
  • Wound dressings to promote healing
  • Tetanus shots
  • Infection-fighting drugs
  • Skin grafts
  • Help with anxiety and other psychological impacts of the burn

Apart from medical attention for the burn, the victim (or a loved one, as necessary) should begin documenting why the injury happened in the first place. Treatment for burns can be extensive and expensive. If another party was responsible for your injury, that individual should be liable for the expenses and other damages (such as missed time from work) associated with it.

Contact Our Chicago Burn Injury Attorney Today

The law firm of Hale & Monico works on behalf of burn victims who have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. Once the victim has received the treatment he or she needs, reach out to us to learn more about your legal options.