Department of hand surgery & Microsurgery.

Hand Burns

Types of burns: A matter of degrees

Burns are classified by the amount of damage done to the skin and other body tissue:

  • First-degree burns, such as sunburns are minor and heal quickly. First-degree burns result in reddened skin.
  • Second-degree burns are serious injuries that require medical attention. Symptoms of second-degree burns include blistered, peeling skin.
  • Third-degree burns are severe and require immediate, professional medical attention. You will likely notice dry/charred, white, yellow or bright red tissue. Although the severely burned area may not be blistered, it often is surrounded by blistered areas.

A burn wound is constantly changing, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine the depth of the injury in the first 2-5 days. Burns are painful. Our goal is to make you as comfortable as possible.

Burn first aid
  • Stop the burning process.
  • Run cool water over the burn.
  • Do not use ice directly on the burn wound.
  • Do not apply home remedies/ointments.
  • Cover the burn with a clean bandage or cloth.
  • Take Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen for pain.
  • Seek medical attention if needed.
Healing burns

A high protein diet is important for wound healing. Encourage foods such as milk, meat, eggs, yogurt, cheese, beans and peanut butter. Limit water, juices and junk food. If the burn wounds heal within 14-21 days, the chance of scarring is minimal to none.

Lotion massage

Once the skin is healed, you may begin to apply a non-perfumed lotion or moisturizer at least 4 times a day. Use a circular motion when rubbing the lotion into the skin. Massage the new skin with the lotion until you can no longer see the lotion. Lotion massage helps the skin be more elastic and smooth like uninjured skin, and also helps with itching.


A cast will protect the injured extremity during the healing process, decrease the need for frequent dressing changes and allow the injury to heal in an optimal position. The cast must stay dry so patients should take sponge baths only. If the cast gets wet, the cast must be removed and a new cast applied.


Tight elastic garments may be used as a scar management tool. Custom pressure garments put constant, even pressure on the scar tissue, which results in improved texture and thickness of scars. If a pressure garment is recommended, it will be custom ordered by a physical or occupational therapist.

When surgery is indicated ?

Deep burns and burns involving large area are difficult to heal by itself. Such wounds are made to heal faster with help of skin grafts or flaps.

Suboptimal treatments even for superficial burns may result in contractures and compromised use of hand and fingers. In such instances , reconstructive procedures may be performed to improve the hand functions.