Understanding Degrees of Burns

Burns are among the most common injuries to children and adults alike. Burns are identified by minimal to extreme skin damage that affects skin coloration and causes pain and other defects and can cause skin death.

Most people in their lives never have to experience serious burns, and therefore will thankfully never have to suffer the effects of serious injury. However, it is important to recognize the types of burns there are and when more emergent care may be necessary.

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There are three levels of burns primarily: first, second, and third degree. For each degree of burn goes its own level of severity to the skin. First degree is the least damaging to the skin, and third being the most severe. There is a fourth-degree burn, and that goes beyond into the tendons and bones. However, for simplicity’s sake, we will stick with first through third.

Burns can have a variety of causes. Electrical or chemical burns, extreme sun exposure, scalding hot liquids, or flames from lighters, candles or flames. The type of burn one gets is not necessarily from the source of the burn as compared to how long the skin is exposed to it. For instance, if one is exposed to a hot soup that is spilled on the skin, that can scald the skin and cause all three burns, depending on how long it stays on the skin.

First degree burns affect the top layer of the skin and cause pain, redness, and minor inflammation and/or swelling. Peeling or dryness may occur as the healing process occurs. Healing without scars follows within 7-10 days.

Second degree burns go beyond the top layer of skin and usually cause blistering of the skin and become very red and sore. These more delicate burns need to be kept clean and bandaged to prevent infection. This also speeds up healing, which may take a couple of weeks, sometimes with or without scarring and pigment changes to the skin.

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Third degree burns are the most extensive, and although thought to be the most painful at times, have gone on to cause nerve damage and a person may not feel as much pain. They are characterized as having a raised or leather-like texture, charred, a dark brown or waxy white color. These burns must never be self-treated, and immediate medical help must be sought immediately. Surgery is a must for these burns, and without it, scarring and other long-term injuries are inevitable.

Adequate treatment for all burns is necessary to maintain proper skin health. Do not hesitate to seek medical treatment for any and all burns. If you have been burned due to the negligence of others, seek counsel from a qualified burn injury lawyer.