- The first three degrees of burns. The treatment for third-degree burns is a four stage process. The stages begin with the initial treatment, followed by steps to eliminate the chance for infections to set in. The third and fourth stages deal with cosmetic healing, such as ensuring that the skin heals properly and preventing scarring when possible. None of these stages can be done without the aid of a medical professional, and most physicians will recommend that the person with third-degree.
- Burn care: Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Remove old bandages. You may need to soak the bandage in water before you remove it so it will not stick to your wound. Gently clean the burned area daily with mild soap and water. Pat the area dry.
A burn blister is a fluid-filled covering of skin that forms after a burn. People should avoid popping a burn blister, as it plays a vital role in protecting the skin underneath. Learn about how.
To know if your wound care is working, monitor the wound healing process for these signs.
Different wound types require different treatment methods. If your wound healing process begins to slow or reverse itself, certain signs may indicate improper care methods or require the use of different wound care products. Knowing the positive and negative signs to look for will help ensure that your wounds are healing properly.
Signs the Wound Healing Process Is Working
Every wound goes through several stages of healing. Small cuts and scrapes typically heal faster than larger wounds such as burns, ulcers, and surgical wounds. Look for the signs below to ensure your wound is healing properly:
- Scab formation. Cuts, scrapes, and puncture wounds typically undergo three stages of healing: bleeding, clotting, and scab formation. More advanced wounds require periods for tissue repair and re-growth. Significant or prolonged bleeding and the lack of scab formation indicate the need for advanced medical care.
- Initial swelling.Swelling occurs as a result of your immune system working to repair your wound. You may notice a clear fluid coming from the wound, which helps to clean and disinfect the damaged skin. Redness, swelling, and tenderness may occur as blood vessels widen to ease blood flow and the delivery of oxygen, vitamins, and minerals to your wound. This stage typically lasts no longer than one week and swelling should subside soon after.
- New tissue growth.After swelling subsides, new tissue should begin to form. You should see new skin forming over the wound, and the exposed wound should shrink. This process usually lasts two to three weeks, but deeper and more severe wounds may require more healing time.
- Scar formation.Deeper cuts, scrapes, and burns often result in scarring, which can last for several years. This is typically the final stage of the wound healing process. The initial scab is replaced by a scar, and you may notice that the new skin feels tougher and less elastic. Depending on the severity of the wound, the scar may gradually fade away.
Signs the Wound Healing Process Isn’t Working
The rate at which a wound heals depends on its type and severity as well as the wound care treatment employed to help you heal. If you follow your doctor’s instructions and utilize your wound care supplies correctly, the wound healing process should prove successful.
Individual factors such as age and underlying medical conditions also play a role, as do lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, smoking, and alcohol use. If you experience any of the following symptoms of improper wound healing, contact your doctor immediately:
- Worsening or no changes in pain.While some wounds can remain painful at the start of healing, worsening pain or lack of relief over many days indicates a non-healing wound.
- Foul odor.A strange or unpleasant smell may indicate dead tissue or necrosis. Avoid applying scent-masking products to the wound, which can interfere with the healing process and lead to other complications. If your prescribed wound care supplies are not reducing odor, you may have an infection or other wound complication.
- Thick discharge.You may notice a clear fluid coming from your wound at the start of the wound healing process; this is normal. However, if the wound emits a thick, yellowish liquid, it is likely infected. Carefully wash away the discharge with warm water and soap, and consult with your doctor. Avoid scrubbing, peeling, or aggravating your wound.
- Significant swelling or redness.Wounds typically swell or redden slightly at the start of healing, but should improve after several days. Worsening swelling or redness, commonly accompanied by pain, usually indicates poor healing.
- Prolonged fever.A fever of over 100 degrees F lasting for more than four hours indicates more serious complications. Contact your doctor immediately.
- The 30-day rule.Most non-life-threatening wounds typically heal (or are close to being healed) after 30 days. If little or no improvement occurs during this period, seek additional care.
If you have questions or concerns about your wound, do not attempt to handle it alone. Contact your physician and seek medical attention when necessary.
Advanced Tissue offers a comprehensive selection of wound care products for every stage of the wound healing process.
This material must not be used for commercial purposes, or in any hospital or medical facility. Failure to comply may result in legal action.
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on March 4, 2021.
Burn Healing Stages Second Degree
- Care Notes
- Aftercare Instructions
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A second-degree burn is also called a partial-thickness burn. A second-degree burn occurs when the first layer and some of the second layer of skin are burned. A superficial second-degree burn usually heals within 2 to 3 weeks with some scarring. A deep second-degree burn can take longer to heal. A second-degree burn can also get worse after a few days and become a third-degree burn.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have a fast heartbeat or breathing.
- You are not urinating.
Call your doctor or burn specialist if:
- You have a fever.
- You have increased redness, numbness, or swelling in the burn area.
- Your wound or bandage is leaking pus and has a bad smell.
- Your pain does not get better, or gets worse, even after you take pain medicine.
- You have a dry mouth or eyes.
- You are overly thirsty or tired.
- You have dark yellow urine or urinate less than usual.
- You have a headache or feel dizzy.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to decrease pain, prevent infection, or help your burn heal. They may be given as a pill or as an ointment applied to your skin.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
- Remove old bandages. You may need to soak the bandage in water before you remove it so it will not stick to your wound.
- Gently clean the burned area daily with mild soap and water. Pat the area dry. Look for any swelling or redness around the burn. Do not break closed blisters. You may cause a skin infection.
- Apply cream or ointment to the burn with a cotton swab. Place a nonstick bandage over your burn.
- Wrap a layer of gauze around the bandage to hold it in place. The wrap should be snug but not tight. It is too tight if you feel tingling or lose feeling in that area.
- Apply gentle pressure for a few minutes if bleeding occurs.
- Elevate your burned arm or leg above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your burned arm or leg on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
- Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink extra liquid to help prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Go to physical therapy, if directed. Your muscles and joints may not work well after a second-degree burn. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
Prevent second-degree burns:
Friction Burn Healing Stages
- Do not leave cups, mugs, or bowls containing hot liquids at the edge of a table. Keep pot handles turned away from the stove front.
- Do not leave a lit cigarette. Make sure it is no longer lit. Then dispose of it safely.
- Store dangerous items out of the reach of children. Store cigarette lighters, matches, and chemicals where children cannot reach them. Use child safety latches on the door of the safe storage area.
- Keep your water heater setting to low or medium (90°F to 120°F, or 32°C to 48°C).
- Wear sunscreen that has a sun protectant factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. The sunscreen should also have ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) protection. Follow the directions on the label when you use sunscreen. Put on more sunscreen if you are in the sun for more than an hour. Reapply sunscreen often if you go swimming or are sweating.
Follow up with your doctor or burn specialist as directed:
You may need to return to have your wound checked and your bandage changed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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Burn Healing Stages
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
3rd Degree Burn Healing Process
Learn more about Second-Degree Burn (Aftercare Instructions)
Burn Healing Stages Pictures
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