What Are the Different Burn Degrees?

There are four different burn degrees: first-degree burns, second-degree burns, third-degree burns, and fourth-degree burns. Burns vary in severity and discomfort. While some burns are relatively minor and can be treated at home, others are more severe causing significant damage to your skin, organs and bones, and require surgery or even long-term medical care.

Furthermore, burns fall into two categories: minor and major burns.

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns are the least severe burn injuries. They are uncomfortable but usually do not require any medical attention. First-degree burns damage the outermost layer of your skin, and you can usually treat them at home. While they may be painful initially, the associated symptoms typically resemble bad sunburns. In rare cases, you may consider visiting a doctor if there is a risk of infection. First-degree burns typically heal in less than two weeks.

The symptoms of first-degree burns include:

  • Dry skin
  • Tingling
  • Redness at the site of the burn
  • Painful to touch
  • Light swelling
  • Peeling similar to sunburns

While most first-degree burns do not require visiting a doctor, you should consider visiting one if your first-degree burn is large. You should also consider it if the affected area is a key joint.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns are a bit more severe. They damage the skin layer underneath your top layer of skin. You may not need to visit a doctor for this burn, but they can be quite painful and are prone to infection. You can generally treat these burns yourself by cooling, cleaning, and lightly bandaging the site of the burn.

Second-degree burn symptoms include:

  • Redness or pink skin at the site of the burn
  • Skin lightening when you touch the affected area
  • Blistering

Second degree burns usually heal in about two weeks. While you should not experience scarring in the affected area, you may notice changes in your skin color.  

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns affect deeper layers of your skin. They are known as “full thickness” burns. Third-degree burns are very painful and require immediate medical attention. In fact, you will likely require skin grafts as part of your treatment to restore your skin. Common causes of third-degree burns include open fires, extremely hot liquids, flash explosions, and exposure to hot surfaces.

The following are symptoms of third-degree burns:

  • Skin appears deep red but sometimes white
  • A waxy texture
  • Outer layer of skin is heavily damaged
  • Deep tissue damage
  • May feel less pain initially but the pain often becomes more pronounced as time wears on (in some cases, you may feel no pain at all)

Fourth-Degree Burns

Like you would expect, fourth-degree burns are the most severe burns you can experience. They require immediate medical attention, and you will likely require skin grafts, surgery, and more. These burns extend through the skin into fat, bones, and muscle. Though they are the most severe burns they are not always the most painful. This is because most people who suffer fourth-degree burns experience some level of shock. Also, fourth-degree burns often damage nerve endings, preventing you from feeling pain from the affected area. Fourth-degree burns are serious and sometimes require amputation. In other cases, they are a cause of death.

Signs of fourth-degree burns include:

  • Black, charred skin
  • Dry skin
  • Loss of function at the site of the burn

Minor and Major Burns

While there are four different burn degrees, there are also minor burns and major burns.

First-degree burns are minor burns on the body. Other minor burns include second-degree burns that are less than two or three inches. Any type of third-degree or fourth-degree burn is a major burn.

It is important to note you can have more than a single type of burn at one time on your body. For example, you may have suffered third-degree burns on your legs and second-degree burns on your arms after a house fire. 

Call an Atlanta Attorney After Your Burn Injuries

Burns injuries are among the most painful you can suffer. And they can occur in a variety of ways. Grease, car accidents, friction, and electricity are among the different ways you can suffer burn injuries.

If you or someone you care about suffered a burn injury caused by negligence, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. We will walk you through your options and pore over the details of your case. We can walk you through the stages of a personal injury claim and ease the stress it places on your family. We offer free consultations. Call us now at 404-842-7838 to learn more about how S. Burke Law can help with your burn injury.