Types Of Burns And Treatments

Different types of burns can be much different as far as extent of injury, treatment and outlook for recovery.

Burns are among the most excruciatingly painful physical injuries. Even a relatively minor burn can be intensely painful. A burn occurs when the skin, and often other bodily organs, come in contact with heat, radiation, electricity or chemicals for a period long enough to cause damage. Burns can affect many body parts aside from the site of the burn. Nerves, blood vessels, bones, muscles and other areas may be involved when another part of the body is injured. For example, the respiratory system may be hampered or shut down from smoke inhalation and the kidneys and heart may be damaged from fluctuations in the balance of fluids and electrolytes following a burn. Usually infants and the elderly have more serious reactions to burns and also more extended healing processes. People with other health problems may suffer more serious damage as well, due to lowered resistance.

Burns are generally put into three categories. These classes are first, second and third degree burns. The burn category indicates the severity of the burn along with the amount of body area covered by the burn injury.


The first-degree burn usually produces a pink to reddish color on the burned skin. Mild swelling, tenderness and pain are also symptoms of a first-degree burn. This is the least serious type of burn and involves only the upper layer of skin, the epidermis. For these minor burns, the victim should cool with plain water and use non-prescription antibiotic creams. These burns usually heal on their own within a few days with little or no scarring. However, if a first-degree burn is over a large area of the body, seek emergency medical attention. Also, if an infant or elderly person suffers any type of burn, even minor, obtain medical assistance promptly.


Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and the second skin layer, the dermis. The epidermis is destroyed and burned-through in a second-degree burn. There are the same symptoms of pain and swelling but the skin color is usually a bright red and blisters are produced. Usually second-degree burns produce scarring. Second degree burns may take from one to three weeks to heal but are considered minor if they cover no more than 15% of the total body area in adults and 10% body area in children. These burns require medical attention and medication to heal properly. Call for immediate medical help as soon as the burn occurs and do not apply any type of butter or greasy substance to the burn. This can hamper cooling of the burn area and also do further damage. Consult medical personnel about whether or not to administer fluids to victim before arriving at a hospital.


The third-degree burn may appear charred or have patches which appear white, brown or black. Both the dermis and epidermis are destroyed and other organs, tissues and bones may also be involved. Third-degree burns are considered the most serious. They produce deep scars that many times require cosmetic or reconstructive surgery and skin grafts. Pain may or may not be present since usually nerve endings which transmit pain have been destroyed in this type burn.

Possible complications from burns include infection, tetanus, scarring, pneumonia and shock. Shock may set in due to the fluid and electrolyte loss in a serious burn.

If present when a victim suffers an electrical burn, turn off the source of power as soon as possible. Do not touch the victim with bare hands. Try to move the victim with some non-conductive material like a wooden chair or board. Check for breathing and start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if necessary. Call for immediate emergency help.

In the case of chemical burns, put the affected area under a faucet and let cool water at medium pressure rinse the wound for at least 15 minutes. While area is being rinsed, call 911 for instructions on what to do next.

Never try to remove jewelry or clothing from a burn victim before reaching a hospital if those items seem stuck to the skin.

If, after suffering a burn and undergoing treatment, you experience any of the following, seek medical help as soon as possible:

---chills, fever

---increased pain


---wound suddenly starts to bleed

© High Speed Ventures 2011