Burn FAQs

A number of factors can affect the healing process for burns. Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions, courtesy of the Division of Plastic Surgery Burn Clinic at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

How long will it take to heal my burn?

The time required to heal a burn depends on its depth—it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. For serious burns, surgery may be necessary.

Why does my burn itch? How can I reduce the itching?

Dry skin often itches, so applying lotion may help. A burn may also itch as nerves regenerate within the affected tissue. If itching is severe, medication may be prescribed.

Will my skin return to its normal color and appearance?

Whether a scar develops depends on the severity of the burn as well as genetic factors—some people scar more easily than others. If scarring becomes an issue, ask your physician about possible treatment. As your skin heals it will also regain its pigment, but it may never return to the same color. Be sure to protect your skin from sun exposure by using sunscreen SPF 50 or greater.

Why does my skin feel dry and tight?

The oil glands in the skin can be damaged by a burn. To remedy the dryness, try using a moisturizer or lotion labeled for use with sensitive skin—make sure it doesn’t contain irritants such as perfumes or dyes. For severe burns, your care provider may suggest massage and stretching exercises as healing progresses and the scar tissue matures.

Will I need to wear pressure garments?

If you’ve suffered a severe burn, your care provider may suggest using pressure garments. These garments are worn 23 out of 24 hours a day, usually during the first year of healing, to prevent overgrowth of collagen and subsequent scarring.