The most common system of classifying burns categorizes them as first-, second-, or third-degree. Sometimes this is extended to include a fourth or even up to a sixth degree, but most burns are first- to third-degree, with the higher-degree burns typically being used to classify burns postmortem. The following are brief descriptions of the first three classes:
- First-degree burns are usually limited to redness (erythema), a white plaque and minor pain at the site of injury. These burns only involve the epidermis.
- Second-degree burns manifest as erythema with superficial blistering of the skin, and can involve more or less pain depending on the level of nerve involvement. Second-degree burns involve the superficial (papillary) dermis and may also involve the deep (reticular) dermis layer.
- Third-degree burns occur when the epidermis is lost with damage to the hypodermis. Burn victims will exhibit charring and extreme damage of the dermis, and sometimes hard eschar will be present. Third-degree burns result in scarring and victims will also exhibit the loss of hair shafts and keratin. These burns may require grafting.
Burns are caused by a wide variety of substances and external sources such as exposure to chemicals, friction, electricity, radiation, and extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.
Consult a Primary Care Physician first