Let me tell you about my experience with a second-degree burn. It was just a casual Friday night at my apartment. Though we have much more time on our hands given quarantine life, the pressures of university and work life still continue. So as usual, I decided to eat my first proper meal in the middle of the day. What would be easier than some fettuccini alfredo?
I am stirring my homemade sauce and finish texting my mother, proud to call myself a MasterChef at that point. I then realized I had to drain the rest of my boiling pasta that I was going to add. Dragging my pot to the sink, I unfortunately spilled raging hot pasta water all over my right leg. Not wanting to cause a scene, I thought I could diffuse the situation and cool off. But my roommates knew something was wrong. After talking to a doctor, we realized that it was best for me to go to the hospital, where I was then diagnosed with a second-degree burn and put on an antibiotic.
A second-degree burn affects the outermost layer of the skin or epidermis and another layer known as the dermis. Also considered to be the most painful type of burn, it can be detected if your skin is extremely sensitive, blistering, wet-looking, has an irregular burn pattern and looks white, dark red or dark brown. It will usually heal within 1 to 3 weeks.
Nearly a week in and the skin on my leg is making much process. Though I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to walk from the soreness, I am confident that things will get better soon.
But what are some steps you can take to take care of yourself if you possibly end up in the same situation?
1. Ask for Help
If you are possibly someone who is as stubborn as me, you might have trouble immediately recognizing or asking for help during an emergency. If you are in a lot of pain, see redness, blisters and peeling of the skin, and are in an environment in which you can easily call for someone, take that opportunity! You may not know what is happening to your body in that moment, so it is important to ask for another opinion, especially from a healthcare professional. It can potentially save your life.
2. Run your Wound over Cold Water
While your initial instinct might be to grab some ice to ease the pain, you should actually run your burn over cool, not cold, water for 10-15 minutes.
3. Develop a Routine
For the next couple of weeks, it may be difficult to move around and fully take care of yourself in other ways, such as getting a fully proper shower without gauze slipping from your wound (I’m still trying to work on that). But until life gets back to normal, it is important to
- Limit physical activity
- Not break any blisters
- Wear loose-fitting clothing
- Drink plenty of water and fluids to keep yourself hydrated
- Clean with mild soap and water, apply a prescribed antibiotic and dress your wound with non-stick sterile pads and bandage rolls twice a day. (Make sure the wound is not wrapped too tightly, as that may cut off circulation)
- Keep your wound elevated
- Avoid picking, rubbing or scratching your skin
- Look out for infection, especially if you catch a fever or feel ill
4. Keep your Head Up
Last, but certainly not least, make sure to keep a positive mindset. It can be a struggle for sure, especially depending on the burn itself and where it is. It is going to be painful and constraining. However, at the end of the day, a second-degree burn is only temporary. There may be some discoloration that will eventually go away and the possibility of scarring if you do not moisturize, which is why it is important to constantly take care of your skin.
Not only did I initially worry about what my thigh would look like once it heals, but I would also constantly beat myself up for how my accident occurred. I felt embarrassed and clumsy. But we cannot fully heal physically if we choose not to heal mentally. Our bodies are certainly tied to our mindset. Slowly but surely though, I am starting to accept what happened and trying to look on the bright side of things, such as my healing process. I am excited to heal and move past this.
Accidents happen and we are meant to learn from our mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up. Take care and be kind to yourself. We’re only human.
Learn more about treating second-degree burns here:
Second-degree burn: Everything you need to know –