Hot Burns in the Summer Sun

Summer is heating up—and so can your skin! Whether it’s a youngster wielding a flaming marshmallow, a teenager sunning at the pool for too long or dad brushing up against a charcoal grill—the season is ripe for summertime skin burns.

Burns come in degrees: first, second and third. With a first-degree burn, the skin is red and you’ll notice some pain and swelling at the burn site. When the first and second layer of the skin is burned causing blistering, redness and swelling, it’s classified as a second-degree burn. Third-degree burns are life-threatening and can affect all layers of the skin including fat, muscle and even bone. With a third-degree burn, you’ll see white, leathery, blackened or charred skin. The skin may be numb to the touch because of nerve damage.

How to Treat Minor Burns

If the skin is unbroken, run cool water—not ice water—over the skin and apply a cold cloth. Cover the burn with a sterile bandage and give ibuprofen for pain and swelling. For sunburns, take ibuprofen for pain, keep the skin moisturized with lotion or aloe vera and apply a cold compress to the skin. Burns can go from red to blistering overnight, so pay close attention to the burn site.

How to Treat Serious Burns

Call 911immediately. Until medical help arrives:

  • Remove any smoldering clothing, but NOT any material stuck to the skin.
  • Take off jewelry, belts or clothing that may become too tight if the skin swells.
  • Make sure the person is breathing. Burns around the face, neck and chest can cause breathing problems. If the victim is not breathing, start CPR.
  • Cover the burned area with sterile bandages or a clean sheet. Do not apply first aid ointment and avoid breaking any blisters.
  • Raise the burned body part to above heart level and keep the burned area clear of friction.

Burns to the face, hands, feet and genitals, or a burn area larger than the size of your hand are serious and require immediate medical attention. When in doubt, call 911 or head to the emergency department.