When to Seek Medical Care for a Burn

Two questions: When should you see a doctor for your burn, and what does a vascular surgeon have to do with wound care?

Renowned vascular surgeon, Dr. Farouk Marzouk, leads our team here at Frontier Medical Care in the Bay Ridge Area of Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Marzouk is a talented specialist who uses his considerable medical expertise to treat numerous vascular issues, including carotid artery disease, aortic abdominal aneurysm, varicose veins, peripheral artery disease, and other conditions affecting the health of your arteries and veins.

Also, however, vascular surgeons are vital members of many wound care teams, since your circulatory health, which relies on the well-being of your vascular system, is a vital component of your body’s natural ability to heal after a burn.

Dr. Marzouk is happy to provide guidelines about when to seek medical care for burns and information about the treatments available for these often-painful wounds.

Characterizing burns

One of our first tasks as physicians is to characterize the nature and extent of your burn. To do that, we consider its size and type. Burns are typed according to the layers of skin they affect, including:

First-degree burns

These burns affect the outer layer of your skin, called the epidermis. This visible skin layer provides a protective barrier against germs and other harmful substances and helps control your body temperature. A first-degree burn is the least serious type and may result from an encounter with steam from a pot of boiling water or mild sunburn that leaves the skin red but intact.

Second-degree burns

A second-degree burn involves the dermis, which is below the epidermis and contains sweat glands, nerve endings, and substances such as collagen and elastin. Second-degree burns may include blisters, splotchy red or white skin discoloration, and significant pain.

Third-degree burns

A third-degree burn reaches the hypodermis, the deepest layer of skin. These burns destroy nerve tissue and often cause skin to appear charred or leathery with black, brown, or white skin discoloration.

When should I see a doctor for a burn?

Here at Frontier Medical, we always encourage our patients to contact us whenever they have questions about a medical issue.

In general, however, a mild first-degree burn typically responds to home remedies, such as holding the burned area under cool, but not cold, running water. Treating a burn with ice and/or very cold water can further damage tissue.

Otherwise, we recommend you seek care for any burn that covers an area larger than the size of your palm or involves your hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint. Second- and third-degree burns and those caused by chemicals or electricity also require medical attention. 

Difficulty breathing may signal a burn has damaged the airways. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

You may also require care from a wound specialist if:

Individuals with diabetes, venous insufficiency, and other conditions that affect your vascular health often require specialized treatment for burns.

Treatment for burns

After a careful evaluation, Dr. Marzouk may recommend various treatments, including:

Effective treatment for a burn depends on the size and type of burn as well as any underlying health conditions that may affect your ability to heal.

For specialized wound care that may include treatment for burns, schedule an evaluation at Frontier Medical Care today. 

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