Understanding the Different Types of Burns
Burns occur when heat, flame, sunlight, radiation, chemicals, or electricity cause damage to the skin and possibly the underlying tissues. Burns are classified based on the depth to which they inflict damage to the tissues.
- A superficial burn , also called a first-degree burn, is the mildest type of burn injury. Superficial burns are most often caused by ultraviolet (UV) light or very brief flame exposure. First-degree burns only cause damage to the outermost layer of the skin, called the epidermis, and do not normally cause any scarring. These types of burns normally heal within a week.
- Superficial partial-thickness burns, or second-degree burns, are caused by scalding or short flame exposure. These burns affect the epidermis more deeply, resulting in blistering and possibly scarring. Second-degree burns can take up to 21 days to fully heal.
- A deep partial-thickness burn also falls into the second-degree burn classification. This type of burn affects the dermis, which lies below the epidermis, and usually results in scarring. They are most often caused by scalding, flame, oil, or grease.
- Full-thickness burns , also called third-degree burns, are very serious. They can be caused by immersion in scalding water, flame, grease, chemicals, high-voltage electricity, steam, or oil. These burns damage all layers of the skin and possibly even the muscle and bone, leaving scars. Third-degree burns will only heal at the wound edges by scarring unless skin grafting is performed.
If you are afflicted by a severe burn, consider seeking specialty treatment. The RESTORE Wound Program at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center provides a comprehensive surgical and medical approach to non-healing burns and other complex or chronic wounds. Contact our staff today at (702) 233-5300 to learn more about the program.