Types of Burn Injuries

According to the American Burn Association, 72% of burn injuries in 2010 occurred in the home, such as a scalding from a hot pot or contact with an open fire or flame. About 9% are occupational, as what 5 workers of a steel plant in Tennessee experienced. There were 450,000 burn injuries that were medically treated in 2010, but only 40,000 were severe enough to require hospitalization. Most burn injuries are minor, but there were 2,550 deaths associated with residential fires, 300 from car accidents, 150 from non-residential fires, and 400 from a combination of scalding liquids, electricity, and hot objects such as debris from the fertilizer plant that exploded in Waco that injured nearby residents.

Minor burn injuries may leave a mark that fades with time, but more severe ones often result in scarring and disfigurement that may require surgery. Really bad ones can affect more than skin, resulting in limited mobility. Below are the types of burn injuries based on severity.

  • First degree burns – affects the epidermis, or first layer of skin. It is productive of some pain and redness, but it is essentially minor. People who are exposed to the sun without protection or to harsh chemicals can suffer from this.
  • Second degree burns – affects the epidermis and dermis, the second layer of skin which also contains connective tissue. People with second degree burns will form blisters that can be extremely painful and vulnerable to infection, requiring antibiotics and anti-tetanus shots.
  • Third degree burns – this type of burn may go all the way to the hypodermis and should be brought in immediately for professional medical treatment to prevent shock. The skin is destroyed and requires grafting to replace the lost skin. There is little pain in the burned area because the nerves are dead, but the surrounding intact skin may be extremely painful.
  • Fourth degree burns – extends beyond the skin to the tissue, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, and bone. Victims require emergency medical treatment and extensive hospitalization. Damage to tendons and muscles can affect the mobility of the affected area, requiring surgery to correct or minimize the condition. Scarring is often permanent and irreversible.

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