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Categorizing burn injuries and the effects

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to suffer from a burn injury, you are probably aware that not all burns are the same. Things like how the burn occurred, how long it took to be treated, and what portion of the body the burn took place are all factors in deciding how severe a burn is.

Burn Classification

To better understand the different types of burns and how they are treated, medical professionals group burns into different categories based on how deeply your skin has been burned. These categories are broken into different “degrees.”

The burn degrees are as follows:


A first-degree burn is known to be the least severe of all burns. A first-degree burn only affects the outer layer of skin, also known as the epidermis. First degree burns typically heal quickly and without any medical attention.


  • Mild sunburn
  • Flash burn—a brief gust of heat


  • Dry/peeling skin
  • Redness of skin
  • Minor pain when burn area is touched

Effects: A first-degree burn typically doesn’t have any lasting effects. The burn is usually healed within a few days without medical attention and the only thing that may be left is lighter skin where the peeling took place.


A second-degree burn or partial thickness burn is a burn that involves burning of the epidermis and some portion of the dermis layer of skin.


  • Severe sunburn
  • Chemical burn
  • Scalding


  • Blistering
  • Swelling
  • Shiny/wet looking skin
  • Painful to touch

In the event that a second-degree burn covers less than 10 percent of the victim’s skin, the burn may usually be treated in a hospital setting. The treatment given depends greatly on the severity of the burn, some of the commonly seen treatments are:

  • Antibiotic creams
  • Wound dressing changes and cleaning daily, based on burn severity
  • Antibiotics in severe cases


A third-degree burn or full thickness burn is a burn which destroys both the epidermis and the dermis completely and begins to penetrate into deeper tissues.


  • Spilling scalding liquid directly onto the skin
  • Coming in contact with open flames directly on skin
  • Spilling of chemicals on bare skin
  • Skin coming in contact with a scorching hot object for an extended period of time


  • Black, white or yellow skin
  • Severe swelling
  • Lack of feeling because of burned nerve endings

Because the epidermis and hair follicles have been destroyed completely, without medical attention new skin will not grow. There are many different forms of medical treatment available to treat these burns, some of them include:

  • Removal of dead skin and tissue
  • Tetanus shot
  • IV of electrolytes and/or antibiotics
  • Pain medication
  • In severe cases, skin grafting
  • Cosmetic reconstruction


Burns more severe than third-degree burns are usually not discussed because they are often linked to death. A breakdown of these 3 different degrees are:

  • Fourth-degree burns are burns that penetrate through the skin and reaches ligaments and muscles
  • Fifth-degree burns penetrate further-reaching through muscle and ligaments and begin to reach the bone
  • Sixth-degree burns are the most severe type of burn which results in charred bone


  • House fires
  • Cooking incidents including hot oils
  • Electrical Fires
  • Hazardous chemicals


  • Charring
  • Loss of function
  • Redness
  • Loss of feeling

The unfortunate truth of fourth-degree and higher burns is that they will have an impact on your life in major ways, some of them include:

  • Death in severe cases
  • Pain medication
  • Skin grafts
  • Amputation
  • Antibiotics

If you were wrongly burned due to someone else’s negligence, call (833) MVP-WINS today to schedule your consultation.


brett sachs2
Brett Sachs

Brett S. Sachs graduated from Michigan State University College of Law with Cum Laude Honors. While attending Michigan State, Brett was awarded for his service in the Michigan State University College of Law Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections from injustices brought upon them. Learn more.

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