A burn is damage to the skin and sometimes to the underlying tissues. Burns can range from mild to severe. Some are fatal.
There are four main types of burns:
- First degree—mild, affect the outer layer of skin
- Second degree—deeper into the outer layer of skin
- Third degree—serious, all layers of skin are damaged
- Fourth degree—very serious, damage goes to nerves, muscle, tendon, and/or bone
|Classification of Skin Burns|
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Burns can be caused by:
Heat or flame, such as:
- Hot foods, drinks, water, oil, or grease
- Direct heat such as stoves, heaters, or curling irons
- Direct flame
Chemicals, such as:
- Cleaning products
- Battery fluid
- Pool chemicals
- Drain cleaners
- Sunlight (sunburns ) or tanning beds
- Electricity ( electrical burn )
- Radiation—nuclear, x-rays or radiation treatments for cancer
Burn symptoms and signs vary. It depends on the type of burn.
First Degree Burn
- Burned area turns red and is painful
- The area turns white when pressed
- There may be swelling but no blistering
Second Degree Burn
- The area is moist, red, and weeping—or waxy dry
- The area may turn white when pressed
- Usually painful to air and temperature
Third and Fourth Degree Burn
- Skin can appear waxy white, leathery gray—or charred and blackened
- May feel deep pressure but no pain
Burns needs to be treated right away. Treatment depends on the severity and extent of the burn. The goal is to reduce damage to the tissues and prevent infection.
Minor burns are treated with first aid measures—such as cooling and covering the burn.
Serious burns need medical help right away. Treatment may include:
- CPR and first aid
- Airway and breathing support—with oxygen or mechanical ventilation
- Pain medicines
- Ointments and dressings—to promote healing and prevent infection
- IV fluids—to replace those lost from the burn
- Surgery, such as skin grafts—if burns are unlikely to heal
- Physical therapy—if burns are large
Most burns are from accidents. To reduce the risk:
Watch children and protect them from hazards, such as:
- Stove burners, hot water, hot water faucets, and hot food and drinks
- Matches, lighters, candles, cigarettes
- Gas, chemicals, and firecrackers
- Electric cords and outlets
- Use smoke detectors and make sure they work
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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All rights reserved.
American Burn Association http://ameriburn.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians https://familydoctor.org
Canadian Burn Survivors Community http://canadianburnsurvivors.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
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