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What are the categories of burn injury severity?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Personal Injury |

When dealing with burn injuries, it is important to understand the way medical professionals categorize them. These categories help doctors understand how to treat and prioritize burn injury victims.

Though any type of burn has the potential to cause damage that lasts, the most severe type will always pose a bigger threat to a victim. But how many categories are they and how do burns fit into each one?

Severe full-thickness burns

Stanford Health Care discusses the different stages of a burn injury. First, there are only three categories of burn injury. From the most to the least severe, there are full-thickness or third-degree burns, partial-thickness or second-degree burns, and superficial or first-degree burns.

A full-thickness burn involves both the epidermis and dermis, or the outer and inner layer of skin. These layers are often partially or fully destroyed by the burn. In many cases, even the muscle, tendon and even bone below the surface may end up burned, too. A victim often cannot feel pain in the area due to the destruction of their nerves. The injury will often look charred or white. This type of burn has the most intensive recovery process and requires immediate medical intervention or the victim’s life may be at risk.

Partial-thickness and superficial burns

Partial-thickness burns are also serious, involving the epidermis and part of the dermis. The area is often painful, red and blistered. Though the healing is not as intensive, it still requires quick medical treatment.

Even superficial burns may require a doctor’s care. Sunburns often fall into this category. The surface of the skin will feel painful and look red, but will not blister. It only involves the epidermis. It is still best to seek a doctor’s opinion about treatment even for this, though.