CHOC Children's
BURNS

Classification and Treatment of Burns

What are the classifications of burns?

Burns are classified as first-, second-, or third-degree, depending on how deep and severe they penetrate the skin's surface.

  • First-degree (superficial) burns
    First-degree burns affect only the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. The burn site is red, painful, dry, and with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example. Long-term tissue damage is rare and usually consists of an increase or decrease in the skin color.
  • Second-degree (partial thickness) burns
    Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. The burn site appears red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful.
  • Third-degree (full thickness) burns
    Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. Third-degree burns may also damage the underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. The burn site appears white or charred. There is no sensation in the area since the nerve endings are destroyed.

Second and third-degree burns require the immediate attention of a physician or other healthcare provider. Listed below you will find additional information relating to first-, second-, or third-degree burns.

If you cannot find the information in which you are interested, please visit the Burns Online Resources page in this Web site for an Internet/World Wide Web address that may contain additional information on that topic.

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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