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Urgent care clinics are staffed and equipped to treat minor injuries and illnesses. If you cannot get a doctor’s appointment within 24 hours,  Carolina Urgent Care services will address any condition that is not limb or life-threatening. Among other things, these facilities treat burns.

Burns vary in degree of severity from sunburn to fourth-degree burns. Some burns are mild enough to treat at home while others require immediate medical attention. If you are wondering whether to perform first aid or drive to the clinic, here are five determining factors to help you decide.

The Patient

The age, health, and medical history of the patient is a major considerations in determining whether a burn needs medical attention. If the burn patient is a toddler, infant, or elderly, you should take them to an urgent care clinic. Their bodies are less able to fight off infections and pain.

This is also true of patients with underlying medical conditions like diabetes. Some conditions can limit the body’s ability to heal itself, even from a minor burn. In addition to diabetes, this includes all illnesses that weaken or compromise the immune system.

Depth of the Burn

Medical experts often classify burns by depth or by how far into the tissue the damage has spread. A high number indicates a more serious burn. For instance, a first-degree burn is a mild injury that has not gone beyond the skin’s outer layer. A great example is mild sunburn.

A first-degree burn may be dry, painful, and red but with no blisters. In contrast, a second-degree burn may cause swelling, blisters, and pain. It is important that you visit an urgent care clinic for a second-degree burn. Third and fourth-degree burns, on the other hand, may be best suited to an ER.

Location of the Burn

Some parts of the body are more vulnerable to infection, are difficult to treat, or are challenging to care for at home. These include the genitals, feet, back, hands, and face. Additionally, some burns go around a digit or limb and are called circumferential burns.

These and burns that go over a joint may require professional treatment. An urgent care provider can best help prevent future complications and provide effective treatment.

Size of the Burn

A bigger burn is medically assumed to potentially be more serious than a smaller burn. Medical experts use the Body Surface Area (BSA) measurement to determine the size of a burn. Essentially, a burn is expressed as a percentage of the total area of your skin.

Your palm, excluding your wrist and fingers, represents about 1 percent of your BSA. As a rule of thumb, you should seek medical help for a burn that is more than 2 and 3 percent of the BSA, in children and adults respectively. You can measure by placing your palm over the burned area.

Urgent Care Providers Can Best Address Your Burn

Generally, you can treat a first-degree burn at home with pain medications, aloe, and bandaging. However, larger, deeper burns often require immediate medical care. You can also visit an urgent care clinic if you have a burn you are not sure requires medical treatment.

For severe burns, such as a fourth-degree burn, it is likely that your urgent care provider will refer you to an ER. The best way to find out the type of care you need is to walk into an urgent care clinic and discuss your burn with a professional.