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Understanding Burn Degrees

Posted on July 29, 2021 in

Some of the most serious injuries we can sustain involve burns, which can occur due to contact with open flame, chemicals, hot objects, or even friction. Burn injuries can range in severity based on the cause and degree of the damage, sometimes requiring reconstructive surgeries and months of recovery time. If you sustain a burn injury in an accident, it is important to understand your prognosis and treatment options.

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns are the mildest type of burn injury, typically affecting the outermost layer of skin. You may notice redness, pain, and minor inflammation due to the injury. As the burn heals, you may notice that the area will become dry, and your skin will start to peel. First-degree burns generally take between 7 to 10 days to heal and do not usually leave scars.

You can usually treat this type of burn at home by applying an antibiotic ointment to the area, soaking the injury in cool water for at least five minutes, and soothing your skin using approved topical anesthetics. However, you should see a doctor if the burn affects a large area of your skin, is more than three inches in area, or is on your face or a major joint such as a knee, elbow, shoulder, foot, or ankle.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns are more serious than their first-degree counterparts because they affect both the outer layer of skin and the layer underneath. If you sustain a second-degree burn injury, you may notice blistering, extremely red skin, and soreness around the affected area. As the burn heals, thick, scab-like tissue will form over the wound, which can lead to a permanent change to the appearance of the skin.

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible for a second-degree burn. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may require reconstructive surgery such as skin grafting to heal from the damage. You should seek emergency treatment if your burn affects a large portion of your skin or is on your face, hands, feet, or pelvic area.

Third-Degree Burns

The next category of burn injuries involve third-degree burns, which extend through every layer of skin. Third-degree burns are very severe and often cause permanent damage to the skin and nerves. In face you may not feel pain in the affected area due to nerve damage. The wound may be white, charred black, dark brown, or leathery. When these burns heal, they often leave permanent scars.

It is vital to seek emergency medical attention for a third-degree burn. Never attempt to treat this injury at home. Instead, call 911 immediately and keep the area free of any clothing that could stick to the burn.

Fourth-Degree Burns

The most severe and debilitating type of burn injury is a fourth-degree burn. Not only does a fourth-degree burn affect all layers of the skin and the underlying tissue, but this injury also affects the muscles, tendons, and bones underneath the skin. Nerve endings in the affected area are often permanently destroyed.

The area may look charred or white. You may see exposed bones or tissue, and you may not feel any pain due to the nerve damage. Since a fourth-degree burn is a medical emergency, it is important to call 911 immediately and seek treatment as soon as possible.

If you sustained a burn injury in an accident caused by someone else, you may have options for compensation. Speak to a Chicago burn injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to discuss your next steps.