Classification and Treatment of Burns

What are the classifications of burns?

Burns are classified as first-, second-, or third-degree, depending on how deep and severe they penetrate the skin's surface.

  • First-Degree (superficial) burns affect only the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. The burn site is red, painful, dry, and with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example. Long-term tissue damage is rare and usually consists of an increase or decrease in the skin color.
  • Second-Degree (partial thickness) burns involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. The burn site appears red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful.
  • Third-Degree (full thickness) burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. Third-degree burns may also damage the underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. The burn site appears white or charred. There is no sensation in the area since the nerve endings are destroyed.

Second and third-degree burns require the immediate attention of a physician or other healthcare provider. Listed below you will find additional information relating to first-, second-, or third-degree burns.