Classification of Skin Burns

Skin BurnsSkin Burns

Suffering from skin burns can be really painful. However, you will be able to alleviate a lot of pain suffer with the right treatment.


The University of Mexico has provided the different burn classifications and their corresponding descriptions. These are:


First degree:


  • Includes only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis
  • Skin is usually red and very painful
  • Equivalent to superficial sunburn without blisters
  • Dry in appearance
  • Healing occurs in 3-5 days, injured epithelium peels away from the healthy skin
  • Hospitalization is for pain control and maybe fluid imbalance


Second degree: Can be classified as partial or full thickness.


  • Partial thickness
  • Blisters can be present
  • Involve the entire epidermis and upper layers of the dermis
  • Wound will be pink, red in color, painful and wet appearing
  • Wound will blanch when pressure is applied
  • Should heal in several weeks (10-21 days) without grafting, scarring is usually minimal
  • Full thickness
  • Can be red or white in appearance, but will appear dry.
  • Involves the destruction of the entire epidermis and most of the dermis
  • Sensation can be present, but diminished
  • Blanching is sluggish or absent
  • Full thickness will most likely need excision & skin grafting to heal


Third degree:


  • All layers of the skin is destroyed
  • Extend into the subcutaneous tissues
  • Areas can appear, black or white and will be dry
  • Can appear leathery in texture
  • Will not blanch when pressure is applied
  • No pain


Source: University of New Mexico


One of the most common types of burns is known as the thermal burn. According to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, a heat-induced or thermal burn can occur when the skin comes in contact with any heat source, such as a cooking pan, an iron, a fire, a hot surface or a hot, scalding liquid.


Caring for a heat-induced or thermal burn:


  • Remove the child from the heat source.


  • Cool the affected area with cold water or cold compresses until pain is reduced or alleviated.
  • If a blister has formed, do not break it.
  • Protect the burn with a dry, sterile, gauze bandage or with a clean bed sheet or cloth.
  • If your child’s clothing is stuck to the burned area, do not attempt to remove it. Instead, cut around the clothing leaving the burn intact.
  • Do not apply any ointments, oils, or sprays to the burned area.
  • If the burn is serious, seek medical attention or dial 911 for emergency medical attention.


Source: Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital


Try to do your best to take note of the different types of skin burns. Your ability to identify them will be able to help you or a loved one in the event that such burns occur.


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