Understanding types and degrees of burns.

Types of Burns

There are different types and varying degrees of burns.

Here's what to do if you're burned. 

First-Degree Burns

  • Superficial; only involving the outer layer of skin (epidermis)
  • Skin will appear red and be tender
  • Heating time is approximately 3-6 days
  • Similar to a sunburn

Second-Degree Burn

  • Also referred to as "partial-thickness" burn
  • Involves outer layer of skin (epidermis) and a portion of the inner layer of skin (dermis)
  • Skin will be red and blistered
  • Extreme pain is present due to damaged nerve endings
  • Healing time is approximately 7-28 days
  • Factors that affect healing include:
    • age
    • medical history
    • nutritional status
    • location of burn
    • size and depth of burn
    • complications, such as infection

Third-Degree Burn

  • Also referred to as "full thickness" burn
  • Destroys both layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis)
  • Appearance is whitish or charred and has a tough, leathery feeling
  • Pain is less in these areas due to destroyed nerve endings
  • Healing usually requires skin grafting
  • Often a third-degree injury is surround by a second-degree burn

Fourth-Degree Burn

  • This term is sometimes used and refers to a burn in which structures such as tendon, muscle or bone underlying the skin are also damaged
  • Appearance is white or charred
  • Surgical treatment is often necessary for healing
  • This often results in loss of muscle and bone and sometimes requires amputation
  • Frequently, electrical burns fall under this category

Electrical Burn

  • Electrical burns usually have an entrance and exit wound because the current enters at one point and leave the body at another point
  • Exit wounds are often larger than entrance wounds, giving the appearance that the current "exploded" as it left the body
  • The visual size of the burn may not reflect the extent or depth of the injury