What do the different categories of burn injury mean?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2022

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What do the different categories of burn injury mean?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2022 | Personal Injury

When you suffer burns to the skin, these injuries will fall into different categories based on severity and other factors. Depending on the categories, these burns will receive different types of treatment.

They also have different prognoses and healing times. It is important to understand how both of these factors into a burn victim’s experience.

First degree burns

Stanford Health Care discusses the categories burn injuries fall into. Burns fall into one of three categories ranked from the least to most severe: first degree, second degree and third degree. Sometimes these burns also get referred to as superficial, partial-thickness and full-thickness burns.

First-degree burns only affect the outer layer of skin called the epidermis. The site of the burn is often red, dry and painful, but does not typically have blisters. It is not common for long-term tissue damage to occur, especially beyond the lightening or darkening of the skin. Sunburns often fall into this category.

Second-degree burns

Second-degree burns affect both the epidermis and part of the dermis, or the layer below. The site is often painful, red and blistered. It may also swell. These burns require more extensive treatment and may lead to scarring.

Third-degree burns

Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and often destroy the entire dermis layer below. In the most severe of cases, even the underlying nerves, tendon, muscle and bone may suffer from damage. Burn areas typically appear charred or white, rather than red. The wounds are often not painful due to the destruction of nerve endings in the area.

If burns affect 10 percent of a child’s body or 15 to 20 percent of an adult’s, this is a medical emergency that will require rehabilitation and hospitalization.

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