Classifying Burns and Scalds as “1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Burns”
when referring to the depth of burns has now largely
been replaced with the terms Superficial,
Partial Thickness and Full
Thickness. The chart below illustrates the 3
Superficial burnssuch as sunburn showing
redness, slight swelling and mild pain can be safely handled by home
treatment if the burnt area is less than 50% of the body surface. See
the First Aid Notes for
treatment suggestions for Burns and Scalds
Partial thickness burns don’t extend
completely through the dermis. As you can see, these burns (2nd Degree
Burns possibly showing blistering) although very painful, usually heal
well and are easier to care for. This is because new skin can grow
upward from the dermis.
The patient should see a physician if,
than 1% of skin surface is involved (more than the size of the
neck, genital area, hands, or feet are involved.
child under 12 suffering from burns or scalds
Full thickness burns, if the Dermis
is destroyed (3rd degree burns), no skin can grow back in that area and
deep scarring develops unless Skin Grafting is performed.
These burns appear white, or blackened and because the nerves have been
destroyed, the patient will have no pain in the affected area
You should never self-treat a full thickness burn, no matter how small.
The risk of infection and scarring is too high.
Do Not attempt to remove clothing that may be stuck to the wound
electrical, steam, or inhalation burn (such as smoke, chemical, or
extremely hot air or vapors) must be evaluated by a physician right
away. These types of burns can have unusual complications despite
mild symptoms at first.
Nearly all burns are accidental, prevention is mostly a
matter of basic safety ---
handling caustic chemicals wear protective clothing, gloves and glasses.
have utensils with handles protruding from stove tops.
You can guard against
burns and scalds from hot water by keeping your hot water heater set lower than
120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius).
Children should also
sleep in flame-resistant pajamas or nightgowns.
Never wear clothing with
long, loose sleeves while cooking or around any type of open fire.
Also check the
temperature of a child’s car seat or seat belt before buckling the
You can avoid sunburns by
using a sunscreen of at least a 15 SPF rating. Apply sunscreen
liberally at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.