Burns commonly occur by direct or indirect contact with heat, electric current, radiation, or chemical agents. Burns can lead to cell death.
First degree burn; Second degree burn; Third degree burn
There are 3 levels of burns:
- First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin. They cause pain, redness, and swelling.
- Second-degree burns affect both the outer and underlying layer of skin. They cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering. They are also called partial thickness burns.
- Third-degree burns affect the deep layers of skin. They are also called full thickness burns. They cause white or blackened, burned skin. The skin may be numb.
Burns fall into 2 groups.
Minor burns are:
- First degree burns anywhere on the body
- Second degree burns less than 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 centimeters) wide
Major burns include:
- Third-degree burns
- Second-degree burns more than 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 centimeters) wide
- Second-degree burns on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or over a major joint
You can have more than 1 type of burn at a time.
Severe burns need urgent medical care. This can help prevent scarring, disability, and deformity.
Burns on the face, hands, feet, and genitals can be particularly serious.
Children under age 4 and adults over age 60 have a higher chance of complications and death from severe burns because their skin tends to be thinner than in other age groups.