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Understanding the Different Types of Burns

Last updated 3 years ago

Whether they are caused by scalds, flames, chemicals, or electricity, burns are potential hazards in every home. Unfortunately, burns are some of the most common causes of accidental injury among babies and young children. Many burn injuries can be treated at home and are of little concern, while others require immediate medical care. Depending on how badly the skin is damaged, burns are divided into three categories: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree.

  • First-degree burn
    A first-degree, or superficial, burn is the mildest type of burn injury. It is often caused by ultraviolet (UV) light or very short exposure to flames. This type of burn only causes damage to the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis, and does not cause scarring.
  • Second-degree burn
    Second-degree burns, also called partial thickness burns, affect the outer layer of the skin more deeply and may even cause damage to the underlying layer of the skin (dermis), causing blistering. These burns are often caused by scalding, short flame exposure, hot oil, or grease.
  • Third-degree burn
    Full-thickness burns are very serious. They are usually caused by direct flame exposure, hot oil, grease, or immersion in scalding hot water. Third-degree burns not only affect the dermis and epidermis, but also damage the tissues underneath, such as muscle and bone. These burns lead to scarring and will heal only at the wound edges unless skin grafting is performed.

If your child experiences a burn injury that could be serious, consider seeking immediate medical help. The emergency services at Sunrise Children’s Hospital are ready 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide expert care to children and their families. Our pediatric emergency room is the largest in the Las Vegas area and is staffed by doctors and nurses who specialize in both emergency and pediatric medicine. You can learn more about our services by calling (702) 731-5437.


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Disclaimer: The materials provided are intended for informational purposes only. You should contact your doctor for medical advice. Use of and access to this website or other materials do not create a physician-patient relationship. The opinions expressed through this website are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the hospital, medical staff, or any individual physician or other healthcare professional.
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