Burns: When to Visit the ER

Burns: When to Visit the ER 2017-09-25T16:32:04+00:00

SignatureCare Emergency Center

Burn | Emergency Room Symptoms


For fast reliable treatment for your burns.  You can visit one of our emergency room locations on a walk-in basis or make an appointment.

Burns are a fairly common type of skin injury that can range from very minor to extremely serious. Burns can be caused by fire, sun exposure, appliances, electricity or contact with certain types of chemicals. The severity of a burn injury usually depends on the length or degree of exposure to the harmful substance. Small or minor burns are common and can sometimes be cared for without medical intervention. However, severe burns have the potential to be life-threatening and should be treated immediately by emergency medical personnel.

Common Causes of Burns

Natural or environmental conditions

  • Fire – One of the most common causes of burns are direct or indirect exposure to open flames. Whether the exposure is caused by a campfire or stove burner, even brief exposure to open flames can result in serious burn injuries.
  • Heat – Exposure to high levels of heat can result in burns. Open flames do not have to be present for heat burns to occur. Prolonged exposure to high heat levels can result in dehydration and burned or blistered skin.
  • Sun exposure – Long-term exposure to direct sunlight is responsible for one of the most common types of burns: sunburns. People with light-colored skin can become sunburned after only a few minutes in direct sunlight. Although sunburns are usually minor, certain medications and health conditions can make direct sunlight exposure potentially severe.
  • Hot water – Burns from hot water, or scalding injuries, are the leading cause of burns in small children. A pot of water boiling on the stove can be spilled, resulting in very severe injuries that require emergency medical treatment. In serious cases, scalding injuries can be fatal.

Equipment, appliance or work-related causes

  • Electricity – When electrical equipment fails or is used improperly, serious burns can be the result. Frayed wires, unsafe work practices or failure to wear safety gear can all contribute to the occurrence of electrical burns.
  • Chemical – Direct contact with hazardous chemicals can lead to some of the most serious types of burns. Although these kinds of burns are more common in certain professions, some household products have the potential to cause severe chemical burns.
  • Radiation – Radiation burns are always serious. Working with certain kinds of equipment can lead to radiation burns if safety practices are neglected. Radiation burns almost always require emergency medical attention.

Other causes

  • Friction – From simple rug burns to motor vehicle accidents, friction burns can be extremely painful. Friction generates high levels of heat, leading to blistered skin, painful rashes and damaged muscle tissue. Friction burns can be especially dangerous because they sometimes occur in the context of other injuries, such as broken bones from a vehicle crash.

When to Seek Medical Attention:

If you have suffered a minor burn, it may be possible to treat at home with cool water, cold compresses, and over-the-counter pain relievers. However, if you have a burn injury that persists without healing or remains very painful, it is best to visit our emergency center. Symptoms of a bad burn can include:

  • Severe, debilitating pain
  • Burns covering large portions of your body
  • Burns caused by radiation or chemical exposure
  • Burns that are accompanied by other injuries
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you have suffered a burn injury, please visit one of our emergency room locations immediately. We are here to help 24/7.

If you’ve recently suffered bad burns, let our board-certified doctors at SignatureCare Emergency Center take a look at it. Visit our 24 Hour Urgent Care Emergency Room. Our board-certified physicians will get you taken care of, within the comforts of our fully-stocked facility. Schedule an emergency room appointment with us.

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