Burn Injuries Levels and Burn Injury Categories
A burn can be one of the most painful injuries an individual suffers. The reason for so much pain is because of burn can cause scarring, swelling, severe blistering, shock to the system or death. Because the skin is a protective barrier, infections can arise after a burn unless treated properly. There are various categories and burn levels depending on how deep the tissue is damaged, but antibiotic creams are a common treatment for minor burns on the skin.
There are a number of causes for burns that include:
- excessive sun exposure,
- heat from a fire or other combustible material,
- a chemical burn,
- exposure to electricity or radiation.
Some of the most common burns occur when hot liquids or the product of steaming water comes in contact with or near the victim’s skin. Structures on fire are also a common cause of burns as well as gasoline or diesel that is exposed to an open flame.
Categories of Burns
There are four categories of burns
- First-degree burns – only damage the outer layer of the skin
- Second-degree burn – affect the layer beneath the outer layer of the skin as well as the outer layer of the skin
- Third-degree burns – damage or may completely destroy the deepest levels of tissue on your body
- Fourth-degree burns – injuries the layers below the skin, including bone, muscle and other internal tissues and organs.
Three Levels of Skin on the Human Body
There are three levels to a human being’s skin. The first level which comes in contact with most substances and burn-related injuries is the epidermis. The second layer of skin that is called the dermis and is where most of the hair follicles and sweat glands are located. The final layer of the skin is called the hypodermis and contains most of the fat, blood vessels and connective tissue within the skin.
Burns to any layers of your skin is painful and can damage the hair follicles, sweat glands, fat, blood vessels and connective tissue. The skin is the largest organ of the body covering about 20 square feet and helps protect us from daily exposure to sun, water, and other pollutants and bacteria.
A first-degree burn, while may be considered the mildest burn injury, can no less be very painful and damaging. Often called a superficial wound or superficial burn, it affects the epidermis layer of your skin. Symptoms of first-degree burns are often easy to identify because they are typically visible to the human eye. Common symptoms of a first-degree burn may be:
- redness to the skin,
- swelling or minor inflammation or discoloration,
- mild to moderate pain, and
- the skin may begin to peel as it becomes dry from the burn.
First degree burns can affect any part of the skin depending on the source of heat or cause of the injury. For example, one of the most common causes of first-degree burn is overexposure to the sun. Too much sun can affect the epidermis and result in the above-mentioned symptoms. In addition, overexposure to the sun for a prolonged period of time or at a high frequency can cause cancer in certain individuals who are susceptible.
Second-degree burns affect the second level of the skin called the dermis. The dermis is typically where hair follicles are located as well as some sweat glands on the body. When they second-degree burn reaches the dermis it can have devastating and long-term effects on the body. Overexposure to flames, chemicals, electricity or other hot materials can cause severe symptoms from a second-degree burn. Signs of a second-degree burn may include:
- white or discoloration on the skin
- intense pain when the burn area is touched
- the epidermis and dermis may appear wet and shiny enter severe redness to the skin
- blistering of the skin after a second-degree burn inter
Depending on the age of the second-degree burn victim there are various treatments. If you suffered a second-degree burn you should seek immediate medical attention as it may require extensive medication and attention by medical staff. Since a second-degree burn is more severe than a first-degree burn it may require additional medical attention and care for the victim.
The application of antibiotic creams and ointments may be required on a daily or hourly basis. In addition, the second-degree burn may require bandages to be applied and changed daily depending on how severe the second-degree burn is. Keeping the skin clean and removing dead skin or expired creams and ointments may and should improve the decreased likelihood of an infection.
A doctor also will prescribe and a specific antibiotic to address the second-degree burn. After a second-degree burn, blisters a form on the site of the injury and doctors have advised that it is not recommended that the victim of the second degree burn pop or burst the blister.
The most common severe type of burn which affects the epidermis, dermis and the third layer of the skin, the hypodermis is classified as a third-degree burn. Third-degree burns are some of the most painful and severe injuries an individual can go through. Causes of third-degree burns can come from a number of sources including
- exposure to certain types of chemicals,
- extremely hot items that can penetrate the epidermis and dermis.
There are a number of symptoms that will present after a third-degree burn which would include the skin appears to be dry, black, white, brown or yellow. In addition, there can be extreme swelling and expansion of the skin and a lack of feeling and touch, including no pain, because the nerve endings have been destroyed which are located in the hypodermis.
Third-degree burns, as serious as they are, may require extensive medical treatment depending on the age of the victim. The doctors will start by cleaning the skin and removing dead tissue that was damaged by the burn. Doctors may also administer intravenous fluids and apply antibiotic creams to the skin. In worst-case scenarios, to close the burn area, skin grafting may be required as well as skin reconstruction surgery.
If a skin graft is performed, medical professionals and doctors will remove skin from another part of the victim’s body to cover the burn area. Skin grafts can vary in thickness and width depending on the severity of the third-degree burn.
Fourth-degree burn after an accident
Although not categorized by most medical professionals as a level or degree of burn, there is something called a fourth-degree burn. Fourth-degree burns will extend past the three layers of skin and damage deeper tissues such as muscles, bones or ligaments and tendons underneath the skin levels.
Fourth-degree burns are extremely painful and can have long-term consequences to both the health and ability for the victim to survive depending on the severity and size of the fourth-degree burn.
Cause of Burns
One of the most common causes of burns after an an auto accident is caused by the deployment of the airbag. Airbags are safety devices placed within a vehicle to protect the occupants from sudden contact with hard or rigid surfaces within the vehicle. Airbags contain chemicals that can burn victims of car accidents if the skin comes in contact with the airbag contents. Airbag design has improved and newer models tout safer airbags and decrease chances of burn injuries.
Another cause of burns can be worksite injuries. Workers in Maryland and throughout the United States who come into contact with electrical wires or other chemicals and substances on the job site may suffer first, second or third-degree burns depending on the exposure and type of burn or fire material.
Burn injuries after a boating, motorcycle or bicycle accident
Chemicals and fuel used on boats is another common cause of burns. Many boats in America have inboard motors that cause noxious gases during use. If those gases are not vented properly it may cause a fire which could ultimately burn a passenger on the boat.
Although not classified as a fir burn injury, injuries sustained in motorcycle and bicycle accidents when the skin comes in contact with the road surface can mimic a burn injury. Oftentimes, depending on the speed of the motorcycle or bicycle and the impact with another vehicle or an object, the burns can be severe and mimic the symptoms of a fourth-degree burn.
Burn Injury Lawyers
If you’ve been the victim of a burn injury, including first-degree burns, second-degree burns or third and fourth-degree burns, and it’s a result of the negligence of another person or company. It is advisable that you speak with a burn injury lawyer and personal injury attorney that can seek appropriate compensation for your injuries as well as your missed time from work and suffering.
Burns is one of the most painful and oftentimes the most difficult injuries to recover from, it is important that you received the compensation from the negligent party. Contact attorney Randolph Rice today if you have suffered a burn injury or you have questions about your rights after an accidental or malicious burn injury.