First distinguish a MINOR BURN from a SERIOUS BURN. These three categories will help you determine emergency care:
First-degree: The least serious burns are those in that only the outer layer of skin (epidermis) is burned. Treat this as a minor burn unless it includes substantial portions of the hands, face, feet, groin or buttocks or a main joint.
Second-degree: While the first layer of skin has been burned by and the second layer of skin (dermis) also is burned and the injury is termed second-degree burn. Blisters establish and the skin takes on an intensely reddened and splotchy appearance. Second-degree burns generate severe pain and swelling. Treat it as a minor burn if the second-degree burn is no larger than 2 to 3 inches in diameter. If the burnt area is larger or if the burn is on the hands, face, feet, groin or buttocks or over a major joint, GET MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY.
Third-degree: The most serious burns are painless and include all layers of the skin. Fat, muscle and even bone might be affected. Areas may be charred black or appear dry and white. Difficulty exhaling and inhaling, carbon monoxide poisoning or other toxic effects might occur if smoke inhalation accompanies the burn.