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The skin serves as a protective barrier, which also provides the fluid and temperature regulation our bodies need. When this protective barrier comes into contact with certain elements, a burn can occur. Burns not only impact the skin outside of the body, but they can also impact muscles, blood vessels, nerves, lungs, and eyes. Inhaling hot gases or toxic chemicals may cause internal burns in the lungs.
Burns are injuries that occur to the skin and vary in their degree of severity. It’s not uncommon to experience a minor burn at some point in your lifetime. Skin contact with hot water, steam, or an accident when cooking are a few examples of when burns can happen.
It’s important to treat a burn properly to regain the health of the body’s protective barrier and maintain overall health. There are four levels of severity when it comes to classifying a burn. The level is determined by the depth of the burn, and the levels of skin and tissue it affects.
First-degree burns impact the first layer of skin. This is also referred to as a superficial burn. With a first-degree burn, the top layer of the skin is in pain, red, and swollen. There is usually no bleeding present with first degree burns.
A second-degree burn damages the first and second layers of skin. Depending on how deep the burn damages the skin, it can be classified in one of two groups; a superficial partial-thickness burn or a deep partial-thickness burn. Second degree burns are painful, red, inflamed, and will blister over time.
Third-degree burns are also known as full-thickness burns. They are classified by damage reaching through to all layers of the skin. In cases of third-degree burns, fatty tissue and muscle tissue below the skin are also affected. The burned area will look white, waxy, and leathery. Instead of feeling pain, the area is usually numb, due to nerve damage.
Fourth-degree burns are the most severe. These burns extend beyond all layers of skin and tissue. Muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and bones are affected. Fourth-degree burns make the skin look blackened or charred. This level of burn causes substantial nerve damage, which means that no pain will be felt with fourth-degree burns.
Minor burns should not require medical attention. However, burns more serious than first-degree, usually require help from a medical professional. Without proper care, a burn will not heal properly and may cause serious infection.
It is not uncommon to suffer at least a minor burn at some point. Learn common risk factors that can lead to burns.
Nearly half a million people are burned in the United States each year. Take the steps to protect yourself and your family from burns.
Different treatments are available for burns. Learn the ways to treat burns based on their depth or severity.
The following resources offer additional information about fire and burn prevention. Also learn where to find support for burn victims.
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