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Types of burns and how to treat them

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

In our daily lives there is a constant danger of burns: we are all exposed to suffer them due to heat, cold, radiation from the sun or nuclear, electricity and some chemicals that can cause damage or cell death.

Burns will be treated according to the depth and extent of the injury , this will influence healing and even the appearance of complications. For example, burns caused by the sun or those minor injuries can be treated at home, unlike extensive burns as well as deep burns that must be treated by a doctor in a health center, since they can become a problem of health that puts the person’s life at risk.

In this FastlyHealarticle you will learn about the types of burns and how to treat them in each situation.

What is a burn

Burns are injuries that can occur on the skin by contact or exposure to dangerous agents such as intense heat, which can be produced by:

  • Fire.
  • Hot liquids.
  • Objects such as pans used in the kitchen.
  • Sunburns.
  • Electric burns.
  • Radiation
  • Freezing.

It is important to know that the human body tolerates temperatures up to 40 ° C , above this degree the natural ability of the skin to regenerate itself is lost.

The severity of the injuries is given by the agent that caused it, the type of burn, the extent and depth of the burn.

Types of burns

The types of burns depend on the depth of the skin lesion and the extent. Next you will know the three types of burns that exist:

First grade

The first degree burn only affects the superficial layer of the skin, the so-called epidermis . This type of injury is caused by prolonged exposure to the sun or instant exposure to a heat source.

It is characterized by presenting the following symptoms:

  • Redness of the skin.
  • Severe pain or burning
  • Warm feeling .
  • Moderate swelling.
  • High sensitivity at the injury site.
  • Peeling skin .

This type of burn heals spontaneously for approximately 4 days without leaving a scar, hyperpigmented areas may appear over the days.

Second grade

This burn affects both the epidermis and the dermis , they can be superficial or deep.

This type of superficial second degree burn is characterized by:

  • Intense pain.
  • Blisters or sores.

Deep second degree burns can occur, in this case the middle layer of the skin and the sweat glands are affected . The symptoms that characterize this type of burn are:

  • Loss of skin.
  • Carbonization.

The appearance of blisters on the skin becomes a defense system against burns, since it protects them from infections. The liquid it contains allows to hydrate the wound and even help healing, this type of burn is very painful.

Third degree

In this degree, the lesion involves all layers of the skin, even the deepest layer, which is the hypodermis or the subcutaneous layer . The destruction includes blood vessels, lymphatics, sweat glands, nerve endings, and pilosebase follicles.

In this type of burn the predominant symptoms are:

  • Loss of skin layers.
  • The skin takes on a brownish or whitish appearance.
  • Edema.
  • Necrosis.
  • Overinfection.
  • Absence of pain due to the destruction of nerve endings, which is why it is said that third degree burns do not hurt.
  • These injuries take longer to heal and have a high probability of complicating.

How burns are treated

Burns are treated according to the type of burn, extent and severity of the injury:

If the burn is mild and affects a small area of ​​the body surface, it will be treated on an outpatient basis at home and may heal in no more than 2 weeks .

The most serious require medical treatment for proper evaluation, care and pharmacological treatment. This type of burns must be treated in a medical unit specialized in burn patients in order to keep the patient monitored.

Medical treatment

  • The burned patient will first receive first aid according to the degree of burns that he presents.
  • hydrotherapy technique with ultrasound will be used , which will clean and stimulate the damaged tissue.
  • Fluids are administered to prevent dehydration from occurring , these will be applied intravenously, with this, in addition to dehydration, organ failure will be avoided.
  • Administration of medications to control pain and anxiety, this is because the cures that are performed are extremely painful, so medications such as morphine are needed each time the dressings are changed.
  • Ointments and creams are applied for special burns such as Bacitracin or Silver Sulfadiazine, with this it will be possible to close the wounds and avoid infections.
  • Placement of dressings : this is done in order to prepare the wound for better healing.
  • Antibiotics : these will be indicated in cases of intravenous infection.
  • Tetanus vaccine : the application of this vaccine is recommended to all patients suffering from burns.


Any patient who presents a large area of ​​burned skin will require physical therapy exercises, especially if a joint is involved, this is the way to preserve the mobility of the same during the recovery of the wounds caused by the burn.

Surgery and other procedures

  • Respiratory assistance : this may be needed in cases of burns to the face, neck or throat where the airway is compromised, in this case, the doctor will proceed to place an endotracheal tube to maintain the flow of oxygen to the lungs.
  • Tube feeding : this is carried out by placing a tube from the nose to the stomach. It is used in those cases where there are pictures of malnutrition or they are very extensive burns.
  • Skin grafts : it is healthy skin from the same patient which is placed through an operating room procedure to replace the damaged tissue.
  • Plastic surgery : this is performed to rebuild and improve the appearance of scars left by burns, in addition to improving mobility in cases where a joint is affected by the scars left by the burn.

You may also be interested in reading the article: First aid for burns .

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Types of burns and how to treat them , we recommend that you enter our Skin, hair and nails category .

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