Third Degree Burns

What is a third degree burn?

What is a third degree burn?

You may have gotten a small sunburn, or burnt your finger while making cookies. But have you ever experienced or gotten a third degree burn? You most likely have not. A third degree burn is when the burn destroys the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis, and the entire layer underneath.

Causes for a third degree burn

Third degree burns can be caused by


  • A scalding liquid

  • When skin come in contact with a hot object for a very long time

  • Flames from a fire

  • An electrical source

  • A chemical source

What is the difference between a first, second, and third degree burn?

First degree burn:

  • only extends on the top layer of the skin, doesn’t scar and heals in three to four days

  • Example: a mild sunburn is a first degree burn

Second degree burn:

  • The burn extends on the top layer of the skin into the lower layer and may cause blisters and significant scarring
  • Example: much deeper sunburn or any of the reasons above, but to a mild extent
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When I was younger, I got severe third degree burns. I fell into a fire and had to get several surgeries to fix my hand. I still have scars and had to have skin grafted to help then heal.

Skin grafting is when skin is removed from one area of the body, and attached to another. Skin grafting is used for things other than burns, such as:

  • Where there has been major skin loss

  • Cosmetic reasons or reconstructive surgery

  • Skin cancer surgery

  • Previous skin grafts that haven’t healed

  • Very large wounds

  • A wound that surgeons were not able to close properly


In my situation, the plastic surgeon took skin from my hip, and, gross enough, my butt. They chose those areas because the skin was soft and would be able to stretch across my hands for many years.

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What con be done to help heal a burn?

Healing third degree burns:

  • May require hospitalization for many days or many weeks

  • Skin may require skin grafting or surgery by plastic surgeons for skin to heal properly

  • when the burn is new, a temporary skin graft will cover the burn spot for a temporary amount of time. When the burn is ready for a permanent skin graft, plastic surgeons will put on the permanents skin graft
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