What are the degrees of burn injury?

by | May 25, 2023 | Personal Injury

Burn injuries can cause excruciating pain and leave lasting scars on a person. Depending on the degree of the injury, the outcome may look bleaker.

But what are these degrees, and what does each mean?

First degree burns

Healthline takes a look at the different degrees of burn injury. This starts with the least serious: first degree.

A first-degree burn will typically only cause the outermost layer of the skin damage. This layer will usually look red and will feel painful to the touch and extremely sensitive. Most sunburns fall into this category.

These burns serve as largely superficial, and over-the-counter painkillers and ointments are typically the only things that a person needs when treating them.

Second degree burns

These burns often blister, and can affect the surface layer of the skin and the layer of tissue directly under it. These burns are not considered severe unless located on the face or taking up more than 3 inches in diameter on another part of the body.

However, these still require medical attention and treatment. Failure to do so can lead to infection, the risk of complications and the possibility of scarring.

Third degree burns

These are the most severe type of burns and require immediate and often intensive medical care. Burns of third or fourth degree can extend through multiple layers of flesh and may even result in the bone getting burned.

Such burns come with a high risk of complication, including infection, sepsis, gangrene and scarring that requires skin grafts or reconstructive surgery. Third-degree burns classify as serious regardless of the size or location.