Types & Degrees of Burn Injuries

bandage on burn injuryIf someone has ever touched a hot plate or put their hand under extremely hot water, they understand how even the smallest and quickest exposure to heat can cause serious pain. The higher the temperature and the longer the exposure, the more severe the damage that the skin and underlying tissues will sustain. Burns can arise in a variety of situations and from a number of potential causes.

Types of Burn Injuries

There are four classifications for burn injuries depending on the cause of the burn. These include radiation burns, chemical burns, electrical burns, and thermal burns.

  • Radiological – These types of burns are quite serious and are caused by exposure to gamma, beta, or alpha radiation. Often, the only way to stop the burn injury is to provide some sort of decontamination treatment.
  • Chemical – Strong acids or alkali substances can burn the skin on contact. The damage can continue until the chemical is inactivated. If the burn is caused by an alkali substance, it is often more severe due to reactions with lipids in the skin.
  • Electrical – Electrical burns are most common in workplaces and construction sites where machinery, equipment, and electrical currents are everywhere. They can also be considered thermal burns, but coming from very high heat.
  • Thermal – Thermal burns are the most common types of burns because they can happen nearly anywhere. These include burns caused by flash (explosions), flame (exposure to intense heat), scalds (boiling water or grease), and contact (touching hot surfaces). They can be very deep, bypassing the layers of the skin.

Degrees of Burn Injuries

The severity of a burn injury is classified by degrees. Most people have heard of the degrees, but they may not be aware of what they mean and what symptoms they may cause. These are the potential damages a person can sustain with each degree of burn injury.

First-Degree Burns
With a first-degree burn, the individual may sustain superficial injuries impacting only the epidermis, or the top layer of the skin. They are painful, but they usually heal quickly and leave no scars. This can include a sun burn.

Second-Degree Burns
This type of injury may cause thickened skin and blistering which can take varying amounts of time to heal. A superficial partial thickness burn only goes through the first half of the dermis and requires about 10 to 14 days to heal. Deep partial thickness burns can be much more serious, taking up to 20 days to heal and causing scarring.

Third-Degree Burns
These are full thickness burns that go all the way through the dermis, or the second layer of the skin. This type of burn injury often requires surgical treatment to mitigate the damage.

Fourth-Degree Burns

While not recognized as often, burn injuries can reach a fourth degree in which the tendons, nerves, muscles, and even bones may be damaged. This necessitates specialized care and treatment.

When someone else’s negligence leads to a burn injury, the victim may be able to take legal action to pursue monetary compensation for the damages he or she has sustained. Our Dallas burn injury attorneys at Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP are dedicated to representing clients who have been injured due to the reckless wrongdoing of another.

If you believe you have a case, contact our firm and speak with us about your legal options.


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