Any burn injury may seem like a bad burn at first, and in most cases, this is true. Even “mild” burns can leave a victim in pain and unable to move for a period of time.
But how exactly do doctors tell burn injury severity apart? They have a system of categories to do so, which helps them determine how serious a burn is and what they can and should do to help.
Third- and second-degree burns
Stanford Health Care discusses the different categories of burn severity. From most to least severe, they categorize burns as third degree, second degree and first degree.
Third-degree burns involve both the outer and inner layer of skin, or the epidermis and dermis. The tissue is often entirely destroyed, and even muscle or bone can end up scorched. Skin appears charred or white, and victims often have no sensation due to burned nerves.
Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and part of the dermis, though it is not always destroyed. Skin looks red and blistered and the victim is often in pain.
First-degree burns involve the epidermis only. Though the skin seems red and often painful to the touch, it does not blister. This is the easiest type of burn to treat, despite how painful it still is. Many sunburns fall into this category.
It is possible to tell what category a burn falls into based on how much of the epidermis or dermis gets destroyed, along with the appearance of the wound itself. After making this assessment, doctors can begin administering the appropriate treatment.