Types of burns
What are the classifications of burns?
Types of burns are first-, second-, third-degree, or fourth-degree depending on how deeply and severely they penetrate the skin’s surface.
First-degree (superficial) burns. First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis. The burn site is red, painful, dry, and with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example. Long-term tissue damage is rare and often consists of an increase or decrease in skin color.
Second-degree (partial thickness) burns. Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and part of the lower layer of skin, the dermis. The burn site looks red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful.
Third-degree (full thickness) burns.
Sometimes called a “full-thickness burn,” this type of injury destroys two full layers of your skin. Instead of turning red, it may appear black, brown, white or yellow. It won’t hurt because this type of burn damages nerve endings.
Fourth-degree burns. Fourth-degree burns go through both layers of the skin and underlying tissue as well as deeper tissue, possibly involving muscle and bone. There is no feeling in the area since the nerve endings are destroyed.
Burns can lead to many complications, including infection and bone and joint problems. Because of this, it’s a good idea to always follow up with your doctor
Common Causes of Burns
Open flames are one of the most common reasons that people get burned, but there are many other causes. They include:
- Friction burns. When a hard object rubs off some of your skin, you have what’s called a friction burn. It’s both an abrasion (scrape) and a heat burn. These are common in motorcycle and bike accidents. Carpet burn is another type of friction burn.
- Cold burns. Also called “frostbite,” cold burns cause damage to your skin by freezing it. You can get frostbite by being outside in freezing temperatures. It can also happen when your skin comes into direct contact with something very cold for a prolonged period of time.
- Thermal burns. Touching a very hot object raises the temperature of your skin to the point that your skin cells start dying. Very hot metals, scalding liquids, and flames all cause thermal burns. Steam can, too.
- Radiation burns. Sunburn is a type of radiation burn. Other sources of radiation, like X-rays or radiation therapy to treat cancer, can also cause these.
- Chemical burns. Strong acids, solvents or detergents that touch your skin can cause it to burn.
- Electrical burns. If you come into contact with an electrical current, you can get this type of burn.