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Your skin is your largest organ and covers your entire body, and therefore is susceptible to injury, especially burns. There are three different levels of skin burns; first, second, and third degree. The degree depends on how deeply the burn penetrates your skin.

First Degree Burn

A first degree burn singes only the top layer of skin. These types of burns can result from touching hot surfaces (stovetops, cookware, or any type of hot metal), hot liquids (beverages, grease, boiling water), or overexposing your skin to the sun (resulting in sunburn). Typically, the skin turns pink or red, sometimes swells, and is usually uncomfortable for a couple of days. Since the top layer of skin is not completely burned through in a first degree burn the probability of the skin healing itself over time is very high.

A first degree burn is the least serious type of burn, and therefore can usually be treated at home. Run the burned area under cold water for at least 10 minutes, then an apply an aloe vera-based cream directly to the skin to ease discomfort.  If infection is a concern (which is rare), also apply an antibiotic cream.

Second Degree Burn

A second degree burn sears through to the second layer of skin, and as you might imagine is more painful and more serious. Like first degree burns, second degree burns result from exposure to hot liquids, metals, and the sun, but also can result from coming into contact with skin-adverse chemicals. Blisters usually form, and the risk of infection is greater. After the burn heals scarring may occur where the burn had been.

Second degree burns can be treated at home, if the burn is small (no more than about three inches in diameter) and is not in an area exposed to repeated injury. If blisters are not open, run the burn under cold water for 10 minutes. Otherwise, cover the burn with sterile gauze. Treat the burn with an antibiotic ointment to avoid infection. If the burn is over a larger portion of the skin, prevents regular body movement, or in risk of infection seek medical attention.

Third Degree Burn

A third degree burn penetrates through all layers of skin and can even damage muscle tissue and bone, resulting in bleeding, blistering, and even charred skin. These burns result from disasters involving things like flames, toxic chemicals, radioactivity, and electricity.

Victims of third degree burns should seek medical attention immediately. In the mean time, do not run the burned area under cold water or remove burned clothing UNLESS the clothing continues to burn the skin.