Special Note: I am writing this post because it was difficult to find specific articles on second degree burns when I was dealing with this issue. So I decided to contribute information on this topic by chronicling how I managed to take care and heal from my burns. I wish no one would have to go through this but accidents happen and it’s always good to know what to do in any situation.
Warning: This post contains some photos of second degree burns that you may find difficult to look at
How I got second degree burns
A few months ago I was styling my hair while thinking about the different errands and plans I had ahead of my day and weekend. I guess I was not really paying much attention to the task at hand and in a split second I grabbed the wrong end of the curling iron. Ouuuuch! As you can imagine it was excruciatingly painful. Immediately I dropped the curling iron and rushed to run cold water on my hands. I grabbed some ice and wrapped it around some paper towels and placed it on my hand but that was not doing anything to alleviate the pain. It was just getting worse and the only relief came from running cold water over it. I kept looking at my hand and it just looked awfully red and the pain was not going away. I did a quick search on Google and that made me even more nervous. So after about 20 minutes I decided I needed to rush over to the urgent care clinic nearby. I grabbed a cup, filled it with cold water and submerged my hand in it to alleviate the pain. Then I called my sister to drive me over to see a doctor.
The nurse saw me first and confirmed that keeping my hand submerged in cold water was a very good idea. The urgent care clinic doctor examined my hand and determined they were second degree burns. She advised that I needed a tetanus shot. She noticed a small blister forming but told me to leave it alone and let it heal. She went on to apply a dressing on the burns called Silver Sulfadiazine cream (an antibacterial cream) and then wrapped it with sterile non-stick pads and then gauze around them. She wrote up a prescription for the Silver Sulfadiazine cream, some oral antibiotics in case I got an infection and also a mild pain killer. She advised me to change the dressings everyday and keep the burn clean and protected. She also said to check my burns for infection as this would delay the healing process. I was to continue this regimen for 10 days at which time the burns would start to heal.
This is how I left the clinic:
The healing regimen
The first day was the worst especially with the pain. I don’t really like taking prescription meds so I tried to hold off on taking the painkillers but I decided to take one before I went to bed so that I could sleep.
The next day I really had no pain. I changed my dressings as advised by the doctor. Here is a picture and list of the items I used everyday.
Silver Sulfadiazine Cream (dressing), Cotton Swab, Non-Stick Pads, Gauze, First Aid Tape
Caring instructions for Second Degree Burn given by my doctor:
Step 1: Wash hands before changing the dressing
Step 2: Look for any signs of infection whenever you change the dressing.
- Pain that worsens or is unrelieved with prescription medication
- Increasing redness or selling in the area of the burn
- The appearance of pus, greenish discharge, or foul odor
- Remove dressings. If the dressing sticks to the burn, soak it off with lukewarm water.
- Clean the burn area thoroughly, using a mild soap. Begin washing in the center of the burn and wash in an outward, circular direction.
- Pat dry with a clean cloth or towel
- Apply a thin layer of Silver Sulfadiazine cream (dressing) to the burn with a cotton swab. Do not put anything else on the burn.
Step 5: Wrapped the burns with non-stick pads and then with gauze.
Step 6: Keep the dressing clean and dry. If the dressing gets wet, change it. Elevate the burned area if possible for the first 24 hours.
I faithfully kept up with this regimen for 10 days. It was uncomfortable and annoying at times also my fingers felt tight from the burned skin. I really wanted my hand to heal promptly and properly so I kept up with it. I also wanted to avoid getting an infection as the doctor told me this was the biggest problem that would deter me from healing quickly. I took antibiotics for 5 days and the pain killers only 1 day.
I am happy to say that my hand has completely healed and below are the pictures of my progress.
For me the Silver Sulfadiazine cream was a life saver for my second degree burns. I believe without it I would have more scars and my healing process would have taken much longer.
I spent approximately $110 on the medications and supplies. The Silver Sulfadiazine is quite expensive and my insurance only paid 1/2 of the cost ($40). Given the results it was well worth it. I didn’t spend too much on the other supplies as the urgent care clinic gave me gauze and pads to take home.
I hope this chronicle of my daily regimen helps others with treating and healing second degree burns.