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Types of burns -- all you need to know

Here is all you need to know about the types of burns.

Written by Poorva Chavan |Updated : March 16, 2015 3:20 PM IST

Burn is a type of injury caused by heat, such as from a fire, steam, hot liquid or direct contact with a hot object. They can also be caused by radiation, electricity and by certain chemicals. Another kind is an inhalation injury to your airway and/or your lungs, caused by breathing in smoke. The type and severity of the burn depends upon the layer of the skin it has affected. Therefore, skin burns are classified into three levels -- 1st degree, 2nd degree and 3rd degree burns. Here's all you need to know about the types of burns.

1st degree burns are also known as superficial burns as they affect epidermis, the top layer of the skin. Wounds due to these burns appear red, dry and are normally without any blisters. These burns are painful and require 5 to 10 days to heal. There s no scarring due to these but may cause the skin in the area to be discoloured. The main causes of 1st degree burns are sunburn or radiation, scalding due to contact with hot water or steam and flash or electric burns. These burns often tend to be painful, tender and sore.

2nd degree burns, is also called as partial thickness cause damage to the second layer of the skin called the dermis. The wound caused by 2nd degree burns is white, pink to red in colour. It is moist, and is characterized by oozing blisters. These wounds are painful and there is minimal to no scarring but discolouration at the site may be observed.

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3rd degree burns are called the full thickness burns because they involve the full thickness of the epidermis and the dermis, so the nerve endings sweat glands, hair follicles and blood vessels are all completely destroyed. These wounds are dry, leathery and have no elasticity. They have a charred appearance. They cause very little to no pain as the nerve endings are damaged. Small areas affected by 3rd degree burns require months to heal, whereas, large areas need skin grafting. These burns leave scars. Causes for these burns include contact with flames, hot liquids, chemicals and electricity. Know more about home remedies to get rid of burn scars/marks.

Burns also fall into two groups, namely major and minor groups.

Minor burns are:

  • First degree burns anywhere on the body
  • Second degree burns less than 2-3 inches wide

Major burnsinclude:

  • Third-degree burns
  • Second-degree burns more than 2-3 inches wide
  • Second-degree burns on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint

Burns are no doubt painful to deal with and don't just cause physical pain but mental agony too, long after the incident is over. The treatment of burns depends on how severe it is. A 1st degree burn can be treated with certain first aid measures provided it does not affect a large proportion of the hands, feet, groin, buttocks, face or a major joint. In the same vein, a second degree burn can also be treated at home as long as it is no more than 3 inches or 7.6 cm in diameter. All other burns need to be treated by a doctor or in a hospital at the earliest. You may also like to read 5 home remedies to soothe burns.

Image source: Getty Images

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