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Burn (injury)

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Classification and external resources

Second Degree Burn on Hand
ICD-10 T20.T31.
ICD-9 940949
MedlinePlus 000030
MeSH D002056

A burn is an injury to a person's skin or even flesh. Burns can grow to be very powerful, and in some cases, can even kill a person. There are 6 degrees of burns.


Burn Degree Diagram.svg

Burns are usually minor. They are usually Degree One to a minor Degree Two. Others are more powerful, such as Degree 3. People may get more powerful burns from high heat or radioactive items.

Degree One Burns

Degree One burns are minor and can be cured at home. They seldom leave scars. A person can get them from hot water, a minor sunburn, or by touching hot metal. It causes pain, but only the top layer of skin is burnt and no nerves are injured.

Degree Two Burns

Lund-Browder chart for estimating burn injury total body surface area.

Degree Two burns can be cured at home, but some people would prefer to take them to the hospital. This degree of burn goes into the second layer of skin.

Degree Three Burns

Degree Three burns are the most severe burns that most people can survive from. Although they may be severe, the chances of death are very low if treated at the hospital right away. It burns through all three layers of skin, leaving a scab.

Degree Four Burns

This degree of burn goes through the skin and destroys the nerves near it. There is no pain at the 4th degree burn area but there can be immense pain occurs around the burn. Very few have survived it. It must be treated at the hospital ASAP if it occurs and the person is still alive.

Degree Five Burns

This burn degree goes all the way through the skin, the nerves near it, and ends at the muscle.

Degree Six Burns

This degree goes and destroys the core of the body. It burns the skin, nerves, muscles, and scorches the bones. In other words, immediate death can and will happen.

Names Layers involved Appearance Texture Sensation Healing Time Complications Example
Superficial (First degree) Epidermis Red without blisters Dry Painful ~2–3 days Repeated sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer later in life[1] A sunburn is a typical first degree burn.
Superficial partial thickness (Second degree) Extends into superficial (papillary) dermis Red with clear blister. Blanches with pressure Moist Painful 1–2 weeks Local infection/cellulitis

Second degree burn of the thumb

Deep partial thickness (Second degree) Extends into deep (reticular) dermis Red-and-white with bloody blisters. Less blanching. Moist Painful 3–4 weeks Scarring, contractures (may require excision and skin grafting) Second-degree burn caused by contact with boiling water
Full thickness (Third degree) Extends through entire dermis Stiff and white/brown Dry, leathery Painless Prolonged and incomplete Scarring, contractures, amputation Eight day old third-degree burn caused by motorcycle muffler.
Fourth degree Extends through skin, subcutaneous tissue and into underlying muscle and bone Black; charred with eschar Dry Painless Requires excision Amputation, significant functional impairment, possible gangrene, and in some cases death. 4th degree burn


  1. Buttaro, Terry (2012). Primary Care: A Collaborative Practice. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 236. ISBN 9780323075855 .