A second-degree burn is one that affects the outer two layers of skin. The epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (the layer underneath) both sustain injury in a second-degree burn. This type of burn may be minor or it may be more serious, depending on the size of the area burned and where on the body the burn occurs. Minor second-degree burns may be self-treated; major ones require immediate medical attention.
A second-degree burn usually takes no more than a few weeks to heal. If it is a minor burn, it may not leave a noticeable scar. However, a deeper burn of this type may result in scarring or even contractures near joints. Contractures can cause reduced mobility in the scarred area.
These burns may be caused when the skin comes into contact with something that is extremely hot, such as fire, hot liquid, steam, or a hot object; this is the most common cause of second-degree burns. Other causes include radiation (such as that from sunlight or cancer treatments), electricity, or chemicals. Symptoms include severe pain, redness, blistering of the skin, discoloration of the skin, and swelling.
A scar from a second degree burn is permanent, just like any other scar. However, there are steps you can take to dramatically improve the appearance of the scar over time. Minimizing your burn scar begins with proper treatment of the burn. Preventing infection is the most important first step to take as the burn heals.
Silicone is highly effective as a burn scar treatment. Once the burn has healed, you can immediately begin using a scar therapy that contains silicone to ensure the scar heals to be as light, flat, and minimally visible as possible. A silicone-based cream can be easy and convenient to use and less cumbersome than silicone sheeting. Be sure to apply the cream regularly – at least twice a day for 12 weeks or longer – for the best results.
In addition to silicone, your scar treatment should contain other ingredients that are known to heal and fade scars and improve the symptoms they can sometimes cause, such as pain and itching. Aloe vera is soothing and natural, and great for keeping the scar area moisturized. Linoleic acid, licorice extract, and vitamin C are just a few of the ingredients you should look for in your scar treatment. These ingredients are safe and effective and work with the silicone to lighten and flatten even dark or red scars.
You should take the utmost care to protect your burn scar from the sun, as sunlight can cause your scar to darken. Often, people try to camouflage a scar by getting a suntan, but this typically has the opposite result: the scar can become permanently darker and even more conspicuous after sun exposure. Make sure to wear sunscreen and keep the burned area covered when you are going to be outdoors.
Getting plenty of exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking will also help your scar heal and fade. If you have sustained a second-degree burn severe enough to leave a scar, the scar will be permanent – but taking these actions will ensure that it heals as well as it possibly can, making it nearly invisible in many cases.
Have a question about your scar? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.
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