Burns - Understanding Its Degrees!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy
Dermatologist, Hyderabad  •  18years experience
Burns - Understanding Its Degrees!

There are mainly three kinds of burns. The degree of burns is determined by the extent of damage that the burn causes. First degree burns are minor while third degree ones are extremely severe. Variety of factors could lead to a burn. They may be chemical, electrical, fire and even sun induced. Boiling or scalding liquids might result in burns as well. The burn type isn’t necessarily determined by what causes it. Scalding hot water might cause all the three types of burns; based on the duration of the skin being in contact with the water and how hot the water is.

Electrical and chemical burns need immediate tending to by a doctor as it might affect the internal body without it being apparent as the damage to the skin is not much. There are also fourth-degree burns. This type of burn includes all of the symptoms of a third-degree burn and also extends beyond the skin into tendons and bones.

  • First-degree burns: These result in the least skin damage and are also known as “superficial burns” as they only affect the skin’s outermost layer. Redness, pain, minor swelling and inflammation are all the symptoms of a first degree burn. As a first degree burn heals, dry skin and peeling takes place. As the skin peels, the symptoms and signs disappear as the burn only manifests on the top most skin layer. It usually takes a week or little more for a first degree burn to heal without any scarring. If the burnt area affects over three inches of skin, or is on the face, then a doctor should be consulted. Home care generally suffices for a first degree burn. Healing time accelerates with rapid treatment of the burn.
  • Second-degree burns: They are serious as the extent of damage is deeper than the topmost layer of the skin. The skin becomes extremely sore with the formation of red blisters. The blisters might pop open and as time passes, the wound may develop a scab. Proper bandaging is required to reduce chances of an infection. Home remedies should be avoided. The burns usually heal within three weeks.
  • Third-degree burns: They are the most severe. They extend through each layer of the skin. They might not cause any pain due to the severity of burn as the nerves might get damaged. 

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