Burn wounds can cause lasting changes.

Nearly everyone has experienced a burn wound at some point. In the daily course of living, whether it’s in cooking or laying out in the sun for too long on the beach, we expose ourselves to that risk frequently. However, some burns are much more serious than others. There are many kinds of burns, and they come from many sources. Some are minor and can be treated with burn cream and waiting out the blister that forms, while others require extensive medical attention and a long period of wound care at home after the procedure. Here, we’ll review the levels of burns and their main causes.

Degrees of burns

You most likely know about degrees of burns, even if you’re not quite sure what they mean. They are:

  • First degree: Red skin, no blisters.
  • Second degree: Blisters and thickened skin. This can be a burn of either partial or full thickness of the skin, and full thickness burns may require skin grafting for the best healing.
  • Third degree: Overall thickening of the affected skin with a white color.

Technically, there’s also a fourth degree of burn – this is when the damage goes to the tendons and bones instead of just the skin. This requires a very specialized treatment regimen and without exception means an extended hospital stay. For a second degree burn, hospitalization may be necessary too. What is best for you depends on your own particular situation, which is why you should call your medical provider or head to the emergency room if you experience a burn of any kind and don’t know what to do.

Sources of burn injuries

There are many different causes of burn injuries beyond touching a hot pan or accidentally interacting with fire. Here are the types of burn injury and what causes them:

  • Thermal burns can come from explosions, flame, hot liquids and contact with hot materials like glass or coals.
  • Chemical burns are caused by strongly acidic or alkali substances, and require special care to stop injury to the skin.
  • Electrical burns are caused by electricity, as the name implies, and need to be evaluated by a medical professional even if they look fine, as they can’t be accurately judged just by the external appearance.
  • Radiological burns are caused by radiation and often require decontamination. Of all the burns listed here, you’re probably least likely to encounter this type.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients.