Minor Burn Care | Injury | MedStar Health

Helping You Recover After A Burn Injury

While minimal burns may be treatable at home, more serious burns require medical attention because of the risk of infection, dehydration, and other complications. Burns covering a large body surface area are considered an emergency and should be treated at the hospital immediately.

The severity classification of burns is as follows:

  • First-degree burn: Affects only the outer layer of skin (the epidermis) and causes pain and redness. Comparable to mild sunburn.

  • Second-degree burn: Extends through and affects the second layer of skin (the dermis) and causes pain, redness, and blisters that may ooze.

  • Third-degree burn: Affects both the epidermis and dermis and may extend damage to the subcutaneous tissues, the hypodermis. Burnsite appears charred, pale, or leathery but there is no pain due to destroyed nerve endings.

  • Fourth-degree burn: Extends through the skin and subcutaneous tissues and into the underlying muscle and bone. Burnsite appears charred and stiff.

You should seek prompt medical attention for second-, third-, and fourth-degree burns as well as for electrical or chemical burns. Keep in mind that all burns, even minor ones, may cause complications if not properly treated. The skin is a natural barrier to infection, and burns destroy that protection, so treatment usually involves preventing or treating infections.

The Burn Center at MedStar Health is the only adult burn treatment center in the Washington metropolitan area, serving the District, southern Maryland, northern Virginia, and eastern West Virginia. The Center meets stringent criteria for qualification by the American Burn Association. It features a multidisciplinary team approach to burn care that provides comprehensive services for patients from injury through initial rehabilitation. For more information on additional care to burns of a greater degree, please visit MedStar Health.

Our approach to care

Our multidisciplinary clinical team provides a full spectrum of comprehensive services to help you recover from a burn. Our expert physical and occupational therapists provide support and guidance through recovery. We offer the most advanced treatment for minor burns, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which uses the power of oxygen to heal your wounds.


The following treatments may be used for burn injuries:

  • Bioengineered skin is a treatment that uses skin substitutes created from biological ingredients in healthy skin.

  • Debridement is the medical removal of damaged or infected tissue to improve the healing ability of remaining tissue.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) delivers oxygen to the wound by breathing 100 percent oxygen in a special chamber, increasing blood flow to affected areas to heal your wounds faster.

  • Plastic surgery can correct dysfunction and deformities related to burn injuries.

  • Skin grafting involves placing skin substitutes over a burn or non-healing wound to permanently replace missing skin or provide a temporary wound cover.

Our goal is to help you heal, inside and out, so you can regain quality of life. We accomplish this by reducing the visibility of burn scars, reshaping appearance, and providing counseling and support services to help resolve the psychological and social issues that often accompany scarring.

Our providers

Plastic surgeon analyzing face of patient

Expert plastic surgery care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our plastic surgeons.

Frequently asked questions

  • How can I prevent infection of a minor burn?

    When handling a minor first-degree burn, you can prevent infection by washing your hands thoroughly. You should also take special care when washing the affected area. Use mild soap and water to cleanse the affected area and apply an antibiotic ointment. Wrap the area loosely with sterile gauze or a clean bandage and follow any specific instructions from your doctor.

  • Is my burn injury infected?

    If you get burned, you may be at risk for infection. Contact your doctor right away if you experience any signs of infection such as a change in color of the surrounding skin, purplish discoloration, change in thickness, greenish discharge, or fever.

Our locations

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MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Road NW,
BLES Building
1st. Floor
Washington, D.C., 20007