Which Types of Burns Require Medical Treatment?

Unless you’re a medical professional, differentiating all the various types of burns can be a confusing and scary process. Burns destroy human skin and can leave the inner workings of the body vulnerable to a host of nasty bacteria. Even small burns can become serious, especially for young children or elderly adults. Many severe complications can occur after a burn injury and burn victims often experience gut-wrenching pain. To help you judge the severity of burns, we’ve created this summary describing the four main types of burns and recommendations regarding when to seek medical treatment.

First-Degree Burns

These burns may be the least serious of all types of burns, but they should not be taken lightly. As stated before, even a minor burn can develop complications. However, with some simple home treatments, most of these burns will heal on their own. Use the following information to decide if your burn injury requires medical treatment.

  • This type of burn only affects the top layer of skin (epidermis).
  • The burned area will be red and tender. Some swelling may be present. The skin will be dry and blister-free.
  • You may feel a considerable amount of pain. Use over-the-counter pain relievers and aloe vera, as needed.
  • This type of burn should heal within a week.
  • Carefully monitor the healing process for signs of infection like a change in color, fever, discharge from the burn, or additional pain.

Second-Degree Burns

These types of burns, superficial or deep second-degree burns, often require medical treatment. This is because second-degree burns destroy deeper layers of skin and can cause irreparable damage if not treated correctly. If the burn covers less than three inches of skin, it may be suitable for home treatment. With a burn that is larger than three inches, it is recommended that you seek medical treatment immediately after the injury. Below, we have described common characteristics associated with these two types of burns.

  • Superficial
    • This type of burn destroys the top layer of skin (epidermis) and partially damages the second layer of skin (dermis).
    • These burns are very painful. The nerve endings are still intact.
    • The burned area of skin will be bright red, moist, and blistered.
  • Deep
    • This type of burn destroys the top layer of skin (epidermis) and heavily damages the second layer of skin (dermis).
    • Most nerve endings are destroyed, so the patient will have poor sensitivity to touch or pain.
    • The burned area will be waxy, dry, wand white.

 Third-Degree Burns

Of all three types of burns, third-degree burns are the most serious. Many burn fatalities come from individuals who have sustained third-degree burns. After a burn injury like this, it is absolutely critical to get the victim to a medical facility. We’ve listed the common symptoms below.

  • This type of burn goes through the epidermis, the dermis, and possibly into the hypodermis (the innermost layer of skin).
  • The burned area will be extremely dry, like leather, and can vary in color (red, brown, or white).
  • Nerve endings have been totally damaged. The victim will feel no pain at the burn site.
  • Intense medical treatment is necessary for the victim to regain form and function at the burn site.

Comments are closed.