Serious burns or cuts
If you have a serious burn or cut, head to an emergency room. For burns over 20 percent of your body or burns that cover your hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, call 911 and don’t delay in getting medical help. These burns need immediate treatment at a hospital. The exception is small, shallow (first-degree) burns that cause little pain and don’t blister—they typically heal on their own and don’t require any kind of medical attention. Although it can be tempting to clean a cut yourself before you treat it with antibiotic ointment (get your tetanus shots regularly!), hold off until you can get professional advice; they might recommend stitches that are beyond your ability to administer at home.
Many people can treat minor cuts or burns at home with first aid, but severe burns and cuts may require a trip to an emergency room. These injuries often need urgent medical care in order to prevent infection and restore proper function. If you’re a person who has easy access to alcohol and you’ve accidentally burned yourself on a stovetop, for example, it would be safer for you to seek out medical attention immediately than try to deal with such serious damage on your own. Burns often cause permanent scarring that requires a series of treatments—even after healing is complete—to make sure that scars don’t develop into keloids (an overgrowth of skin tissue) or hypertrophic scars (excessively raised scars).
Cuts and burns are typically one of two things: infected or serious. A cut or burn is serious if it covers a large part of your body, affects a vital area, has jagged edges that could get caught on something else, involves a lot of blood or if you can’t stop bleeding (from any cut). These types of injuries can cause shock and end up being life-threatening if not dealt with quickly. If you’re uncertain whether your injury is serious, err on the side of caution and head to ER. Any major accident: If you have an accident that causes significant damage to your body in any way—even if it’s not obvious—you should head to emergency care.