The pain of burn injuries goes beyond the physical into the psychological. Many times burn victims are emotionally traumatized by the burns for years into the future. A burn injury can burn just the skin, or go beyond that to the nerve endings and vital organs depending on the severity of the burn. Burns are categorized according to their severity as follows:
- 1st Degree. A first degree burn is one that only affects the first layer or the outermost layer of your skin. It is characterized by red skin, slight swelling on occasion, tingling, pain when touched and a dry appearance.
- 2nd Degree. This is a burn that goes beyond the first layer of skin, to the second layer also known as the dermis. This burn is characterized by blisters, pink or red appearance, when you apply pressure the wound becomes lighter, but when you remove the pressure, it goes back to its original color, minimal scarring occurs after a healing period of 2 – 3 weeks.
- 3rd Degree. This burn results after one has been exposed to the source of heat for just over a few seconds. It is characterized by the destruction of the epidermis and almost all the dermis. It looks white or red and will usually not blister. The pain is minimal initially, but picks up during recovery time. When you apply pressure, the color does not change and treatment will require skin grafting.
- 4th Degree. These are the most serious burns possible. They tend to go beyond all skin layers to the nerve endings and underlying muscle. Many times such a patient is in shock and nerves have been damaged, which means that the person may not register as much pain initially. The burns can damage sweat glands, hair follicles, muscles and bones.
Causes of the Burns
When it comes to first degree burns, the cause is usually thermal such as slight scalding or touching a hot metal object. The duration is usually for just a second or two and most times medical attention is not necessary.
Second degree burns can be caused by flash explosions, scalding liquids, touching hot surfaces, open flames or briefly contacting an electricity source. These also cause 3rd degree burns when the duration of contact is longer.
Fourth degree burns usually occur when one has been in an accident, explosion and the like. Other than first degree burns, the other three must be treated by medical professionals.