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The seriousness of a burn is determined by:

  • The depth of the burn (first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree).
    • First-degree burns are burns of the first layer of skin
    • Second-degree burns. There are two types of second-degree burns:
      • Superficial partial-thickness burns injure the first and second layers of skin.
      • Deep partial-thickness burns injure deeper skin layers.
    • Third-degree burns (full-thickness burns) injure all the skin layers and tissue under the skin. These burns always require medical treatment.
    • Fourth-degree burns extend through the skin to injure muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and bones. These burns always require medical treatment.
  • The size of the burn.
  • The cause (thermal, electrical, chemical, radiation, or friction).
  • The part of the body where the burn occurred.
  • The age and health of the burn victim.
  • Other injuries.

What to think about

It is important to watch for signs of infection during the healing of any burn.

  • Burns and Electric Shock
  • Swelling

By: Healthwise Staff Current as of: June 4, 2014
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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