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When does a burn require medical attention?

A burn requires medical attention when it is large, develops large blisters, worsens over time or causes breaks in the skin. A minor burn can be treated at home with cold water and over-the-counter pain medication. 
 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine
Here's how to know if a burn requires medical attention:
 
  • Any burn area greater than one percent of the body - approximately the size of the victim's hand - requires medical attention.
  • Burns of the fingers, toes, genitals, and eyes always require medical attention.
  • Burns involving the face, airway, and neck are considered life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.
  • All full-thickness burns, no matter how small, require medical attention
  • Anyone who inhales smoke, fumes or flames is also at risk and requires prompt medical attention.
  • Remember, heat may cause the airway to swell, resulting in breathing difficulty. If you suspect airway burns, get prompt medical attention for the victim while monitoring for responsiveness and breathing.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.