Q. I love to cook, but from time to time I burn myself in the kitchen. What is the best way to assess and treat a burn?
A. Cooking or grilling is a common source of minor, and sometimes major, burns. Fortunately, the majority of burns people suffer while cooking fall into the minor variety. First degree burns are like your basic mild sunburn – a little red skin and not much heat. Second degree burns are slightly deeper, cause more pain, and may form blisters. Third degree burns penetrate the entire outer skin layer and permeate into deep tissue; they are usually painless because they are so deep. Hot liquid splattering from a skillet or touching a hot pan or dish will lead to small burns that are usually no worse than second degree. Prolonged contact with the hot liquid or dish can lead to worsened burns, so quick removal and access to cold water flushing is key to limiting the damage. Any burns of fingers, across joints, or to the face require immediate medical attention.