1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Burns

Minor Burns


Burns are among the most common household injuries, especially in children. The term “burn” means more than the burning sensation associated with this injury. Burns are characterized by severe skin damage in which many of the affected cells die. Depending on the cause and degree of injury, most people can recover from burns without serious health consequences. More serious burns require immediate emergency medical care to prevent complications and death.

Burn Levels

There are three primary types of burns: first-, second-, and third-degree. Each degree is based on the severity of damage to the skin, with first degree being the most minor and third degree being the most severe. Damage includes:

  • first-degree burns: red, non-blistered skin
  • second-degree burns: blisters and some thickening of the skin
  • third-degree burns: widespread thickness with a white, leathery appearance

There is also technically a fourth-degree burn. In this type, the damage of third-degree burns extends beyond the skin into tendons and bones.

Burns have a variety of causes, including:

  • scalding from hot, boiling liquids
  • chemical burns
  • electrical burns
  • fires, including flames from matches, candles, and lighters
  • excessive sun exposure