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"Do I need to see a doctor for a small but serious burn on my hand?"

ZocdocAnswersDo I need to see a doctor for a small but serious burn on my hand?


I burned the back of my hand on the oven heating element five days ago. The burn is 1" long and the width of a pen. The first day the burn was white. The second day it started seeping blood and yellow fluid. The third day it turned bright red. The skin was burned off and the area looks gelatinous. It has never blistered and it does not hurt. It hasn't changed in several days, and looks very ugly but localized. There is no pink or red except directly on the wound, which is bright red. It is still slightly seeping yellow fluid. I am washing it twice daily, using neosporin, and keeping the area bandaged. Do I need to see a doctor or is it safe to continue home treatment?


I strongly recommend that you show this burned area to a doctor. You could start with your primary care doctor, who can make an initial assessment of the burn's severity and help you determine whether additional treatment is needed. In particular, I am concerned about the fact that you say the burn does not hurt. Pain in a burn comes from nerve endings under the skin. Superficial burns are painful because the damage to the skin stimulates the nerve ends under the skin, which creates the pain sensation. If the burn is not painful this is concerning that it may be so deep that the nerve endings under the skin were destroyed. Burns that are deep enough to destroy nerve endings may not heal fully on their own, and some of these do require evaluation by plastic surgeons and potential skin grafting or other intervention. Additionally deep burns are at high risk of becoming infected. The fact that you have applied an antibiotic ointment may keep off infection, but it is important to have the area examined for other signs of infection, especially since it is leaking fluid. Please go see your doctor right away for evaluation and treatment.

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