Classification of Burns
What are the classifications of burns?
Burns are classified as first-, second-, third-degree, or fourth-degree depending on how deeply and severely they penetrate the skin's surface.
First-degree (superficial) burns. First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis. The burn site is red, painful, dry, and with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example. Long-term tissue damage is rare and often consists of an increase or decrease in the skin color.
Second-degree (partial thickness) burns. Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and part of the lower layer of skin, the dermis. The burn site looks red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful.
Third-degree (full thickness) burns. Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. They may go into the innermost layer of skin, the subcutaneous tissue. The burn site may look white or blackened and charred.
Fourth-degree burns. Fourth-degree burns go through both layers of the skin and underlying tissue as well as deeper tissue, possibly involving muscle and bone. There is no feeling in the area since the nerve endings are destroyed.
Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MDMaryann FoleyRonald Karlin MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2018
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
- After a Burn: When to Call Your Child's Healthcare Provider
- Burns in Children
- Burns: Symptom Management
- Classification and Treatment of Burns
- Coping Emotionally After a Burn
- Emergency Treatment of a Burn Injury
- Fire Safety and Burns
- Fire Safety and Burns Overview
- Fire Safety and Burns—Identifying High-Risk Situations
- First-Degree Burn
- Burns Caused by Heat
- Home Page - Burns
- Home Wound Care
- If Your Child Has Trouble Adjusting After a Burn Injury
- Nutrition and Burns
- Preventing Burn Injuries
- Preventing Scars and Contractures
- Returning Home After a Burn Injury
- Second-Degree Burn
- Thermal Injuries
- Third-Degree Burn in Children
- Topic Index - Burns
- Albumin injection
- Bacitracin eye ointment
- Bacitracin injection
- Bacitracin skin ointment
- Collagenase injection
- Collagenase ointment
- Silver Sulfadiazine skin cream