If you burn your skin, turn to a UNC Health for care. Whether you’re burned due to heat or chemicals, you’ll need prompt treatment for the best possible recovery.
Symptoms of Burns
If you’re exposed to heat, electricity, chemicals, scalding water, or open flames, you may get burned. While the degree of your burn may vary, you’ll often experience:
Burns caused by the sun, or sunburn, can damage your skin, too. You may notice that your skin is:
- Tender or painful
- Hot or warm to the touch
Severe sunburn can also cause headaches, fever, and nausea from overexposure. If you experience these symptoms, seek emergency medical attention or call 911 right away.
Types of Burns
There are three levels of burns:
- First-degree burns – Affect only the outermost layer of the skin, causing pain, redness, and swelling
- Second-degree burns – Affect both the outer and inner layer of skin, causing pain, swelling, and blistering
- Third-degree burns – Impact the deep layers of your skin, often leading to white or blackened, burned skin that can cause numbness
You can often treat first-degree burns at home:
- Run cold tap water over the burn
- Apply burn creams and ointments to your burn
- Bandage the burn to prevent infection
- Take a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to reduce pain and swelling
If you’re concerned about treating your own burn, visit a UNC Health urgent care clinic for help.
Severe Burns & Emergency Care
If you have a second-degree or third degree burn, seek emergency care at your nearest UNC Health location. After a severe burn, you may need:
- Surgery to repair or reconstruct the burn site
- Rehabilitation, such as physical or occupational therapy
- Wound care to keep your burn site healthy and avoid infection
When to See a Doctor
You can often treat first-degree burns at home. Whether you treat your burn at home or you’re seen in a hospital, talk to your doctor if your burn doesn’t heal, gets infected, or causes new pain.