Health and Medicine

Diseases, Disorders, and Other Health Problems

How are burns classified?

Type Causes and Effects
First-degree Sunburn; steam. Reddening and peeling. Affects epidermis (top layer of skin). Heals within a week.
Second-degree Scalding; holding hot metal. Deeper burns causing blisters. Affects dermis (deep skin layer). Heals in two to three weeks.
Third-degree Fire. A full layer of skin is destroyed. Requires a doctor’s care and grafting.
Circumferential Any burns (often electrical) that completely encircle a limb or body region (such as the chest), which can impair circulation or respiration; requires a doctor’s care; fasciotomy (repair of connective tissues) is sometimes required.
Chemical Acid, alkali. Can be neutralized with water (for up to half an hour). Doctor’s evaluation recommended.
Electrical Destruction of muscles, nerves, circulatory system, etc., below the skin. Doctor’s evaluation and ECG monitoring required.

If more than ten percent of body surface is affected in second-and third-degree burns, shock can develop when large quantities of fluid (and its protein) are lost. When skin is burned, it cannot protect the body from airborne bacteria.


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