What are the degrees of burn injury damage?

William Corbett

Burn injuries cause a good deal of hardship for those who suffer from it. Whether mild, moderate or severe, it is important to know how to handle a burn injury properly.

A good place to start is by understanding the different degrees of severity that burn injuries may fall into.

Surface burns

Healthline talks about the differences between burn injuries. In a rating from the least to most severe, burns classify as first-, second- or third-degree. They are also sometimes called surface, partial-thickness and full-thickness burns.

First-degree burns typically do the least amount of damage, as this affects only the outermost layer of the skin. When people get sunburned, this usually classifies as a first-degree burn, though the more severe sunburns may get up to second-degree.

First-degree burns do not blister and will recover with over-the-counter pain medications and pain relief ointments like aloe vera. Seeing a doctor is important, but they typically will not have any extensive advice or treatment.

Moderate to severe burns

Second-degree burns involve the first and second layers of skin and will result in burns that blister. This is more painful than first-degree burns, with a higher risk of complications like scarring or infection.

Any second-degree burn that is on the face or larger than 3 inches in diameter elsewhere on the body counts as a severe injury.

By contrast, any third-degree burn of any size or location is a severe injury. These burns can involve all layers of the skin and even extend to the muscle or bone. These burns have the highest risk rate for infections and scarring, and require immediate medical attention to prevent a worst-case scenario from happening.

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