Burn Prevention

Burns can happen anytime, anywhere. If you or a loved one experiences a burn, get the wound checked right away. Our burn care specialists at MUSC Health are experts in assessing and treating all burn types.

Burn Injuries: Learn About Burn Types

Burns are injuries to the skin. Some burns cause minimal skin damage, while others are more severe. Doctors classify burns by categories known as degrees.

Burn types include:

  • First-degree burn: Impacts only the epidermis, or skin’s outer layer. Usually heals quickly and doesn’t necessarily need expert medical attention.
  • Second-degree burn: Affects the epidermis as well as the dermis, the next layer of skin. Requires medical attention and may leave a scar.
  • Third-degree burn: Involves both the dermis and epidermis and damages tissue beneath the skin. Requires treatment, such as a skin graft.
  • Fourth-degree burn: Affects the fat layer beneath the dermis and epidermis. Requires treatment, with healing depending on burn severity.

More severe fifth- and sixth-degree burns affect muscle and bone. These types of burns can be life-threatening. Survivors benefit from medical treatment and ongoing rehabilitation.

What to Do When a Burn Happens

Our burn treatment experts specialize in treating complex burns. If you or someone else experiences a burn injury, inspect the skin. Seek medical help if the:

  • Burn is about the size of your hand’s palm or larger.
  • Affected skin looks blackened or white.
  • Burned skin forms a blister.

And watch for signs that a person might be going into shock. Seek medical attention if you notice:

  • Dizziness
  • Fast breathing
  • Cold skin
  • Lots of sweating

How to Prevent Burns

Burn injuries happen in many different ways. Some common causes of burns include:

  • Fire or open flame
  • Boiling water or steam (known as scalding)
  • Heated implements, like irons, curling irons or hair straighteners
  • Electricity, including electrical cords, outlets or lightning
  • Chemicals, such as household cleaning products
  • Cooking products, like grease and oil

    Many burn injuries can happen right in your home. But you can take safety steps to reduce the risk of burns:
  • Check smoke detectors: Make sure each level of your home has a working smoke detector. Change the batteries twice a year.
  • Adjust water heater: The temperature should be no higher than 120 F.
  • Stay away from open flames: Maintain a safe distance from backyard fire pits, indoor fireplaces and other open flames.
  • Use caution: Be careful around matches, lighters and fireworks as well as hot foods and liquids, such as coffee or tea. Keep these items out of reach of children.
  • Allow hot items to cool: Make sure items like irons and curling irons are cool before touching them. Watch any nearby children while you’re using these items or while they’re still hot.
  • Use care when cooking: Turn pot handles toward the back of the stovetop while cooking, so people don’t knock into them. Be extra careful when cooking with hot grease or oil.

Burn Treatment at MUSC Health

Our burn treatment specialists have the expertise and experience to assess and treat all burn types. Learn more about burn treatment and care at MUSC Health.