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Skin problems health centre

Burns and scalds - What will happen to me?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

If you have a minor burn or scald, it should heal quickly, unless it's infected.

Most minor burns and scalds don't leave a scar, even if the skin has blistered. They generally heal in about two or three weeks.[5] Your burn or scald will take longer to heal if it gets infected, so it's very important to keep it clean and covered.[6]

If your burn or scald is small, with only one or two small blisters, you may be able to treat it at home. But if the blistered area is more than 5 centimetres to 7.5 centimetres (2 or 3 inches) across, you should see a doctor straight away.[7] Your burn needs to be carefully cleaned and dressed. Your local accident and emergency department or minor injuries unit will be able to help.

Doctors sometimes disagree about what to do with blisters. Most blisters should probably be left alone, covered with a simple dressing. But some doctors open large blisters with a sterile needle or sterile scissors, to help them heal. Don't try this at home.[6]

Burns that blister your skin sometimes weep and get infected. If this happens, you'll need help from a doctor or nurse. They can clean your burn thoroughly before putting on a dressing.[6][8]

Thin, hairless skin, such as the skin on your inner arm, takes longer to heal than thick or hairy skin, such as the skin on your back or scalp.[8]

We've put together some first aid tips for treating a burn as soon as it happens. This can limit the damage to the skin. To read more, see First aid for minor burns and scalds.

Glossary

infection

You get an infection when bacteria, a fungus, or a virus get into a part of your body where it shouldn't be. For example, an infection in your nose and airways causes the common cold. An infection in your skin can cause rashes such as athlete's foot. The organisms that cause infections are so tiny that you can't see them without a microscope.

For more terms related to Burns and scalds

Citations

For references related to Burns and scalds click here.
Last Updated: March 13, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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