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What are the types and degrees of burns?

Families in California may benefit from learning more about the different types and degrees of burns. A burn injury is typically caused by energy transferring to the body. This results in a burning sensation and severe skin damage, causing the affected skin cells to die. Minor burn injuries can heal in days, while more serious ones can take weeks or months to heal. The burned skin is more susceptible to infection and may leave a permanent scar.

Types of burns

Burn injuries are most commonly caused by thermal, chemical, electrical or radiation contact. Thermal burns are caused by external heat sources raising the temperature of the skin tissue, resulting in charring or cell death. Chemical burns are caused by strong acids, detergents or solvents contacting the skin or eyes. Electrical burns are caused by electrical current and radiation burns are caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun or an X-ray.

Degrees of burns

Burns are classified as first, second or third-degree, depending on how severely and deeply the burns penetrate the skin. First-degree burn injuries are superficial, only affecting the epidermis, the most outer layer of the skin. The burn site is red and dry with no blisters, like a mild sunburn. Second-degree are partial-thickness burns penetrating the epidermis and dermis layers, resulting in a swollen, blistered burn site. Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis, dermis and may damage underlying tendons, muscles and bones.

Suffering from burn injuries

A third-degree, full-thickness, burn site is often white and charred. There’s often no sensation since nerve endings have been destroyed. When a burn injury covers at least 10 percent of a child’s body or 15 to 20 percent of an adult’s body, it’s considered a serious injury that requires hospitalization and extensive rehab.