About Burns

Burn Degrees

First Degree

A First Degree (superficial) burn is the least severe. It reddens the skin and can be painful but is not a threat to life.

  • Common causes: Sunburn, Hot liquids

Second Degree

A Second Degree (partial thickness) burn destroys the top layers of the skin and causes blistering. A deep second degree burn can lead to permanent scarring, and may need to be grafted.

  • Common causes: Hot liquids, Flash injury, Flame injury, Scalding liquids

Third Degree

A Third Degree (full thickness) burn destroys all layers of the skin. Grafting is necessary because no skin cells are left to reproduce themselves.

  • Common causes: Prolonged flame (house fire), Steam or scalding liquids, Chemical or electrical injury

Fourth Degree

A Fourth Degree (full thickness) burn destroys all layers of the skin and involves the deep tendons and muscles. There is no sensation in these burn areas.

  • Common causes: Prolonged flame contact, High voltage electrical injury

Burns are considered serious when they are partial and full thickness and involve more than 20 percent of the body of an adult and 10-15 percent of the body of a child. If the victim has burns of the face, hands, feet, genitals or an inhalation injury the size of the burn may be smaller in surface but could be considered serious. If the victim is very young or very old, an even smaller burn can be life threatening.