A person treating a burn with the words, "what are the different degrees of burn injuries?"

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When most individuals think of personal injury, they often think of car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and product liability. However, one of the biggest and most often overlooked types of injuries that can be compensated if caused by the negligence of another is burn injuries.

Severe burns can lead to permanent damage, disfigurement, and lifelong physical limitations that can completely alter someone’s life. Along with these physical scars, there can also be emotional trauma from the accident and the recovery process, making it difficult to enjoy or participate in normal activities.

When you suffer from a burn injury, whether it was from a slip and fall accident at work, a chemical burn on an oilfield, or a faulty product, you will want a strong personal injury attorney to help you claim the compensation you deserve. Here is more information from your trusted personal injury attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. about the different degrees of burn injuries and how our team can help.

What Is a Burn Injury?

Burns are injuries that cause severe skin damage that results in the affected skin cells dying. While individuals who have minor burn injuries can recover with little to no medical treatment, more serious burn injuries require immediate medical intervention to prevent serious complications or, in the worst cases, death.

What Are the Different Degrees of Burn Injuries?

Burn injuries are broken down into three different types: first-, second-, and third-degree burns. The degree of the burn is determined by the severity of the damage done to the skin, with the first-degree being the most minor and the third-degree being the most severe. Here are the different types of burns broken down:

First-Degree Burns:

First-degree burns are burns that have minimal skin damage. These burns are also known as “superficial burns” as they only affect the outermost layer of skin. Symptoms of first-degree burns are as follows:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Minor inflammation or swelling
  • Pain
  • Dry, peeling skin that occurs as the burn heals

First-degree burns often resolve themselves after 7 to 10 days and typically do not cause scarring as the affected skin cells are shed and replaced. If the burn is widespread or located near your face or a major joint, it is recommended to see a doctor to ensure there is no other damage.

How to Treat a First-Degree Burn

First-degree burns can usually be treated with home care remedies. These treatments are:

  • Soaking the wound in cool water for five minutes or longer
  • Taking pain relief medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Applying an anesthetic with a cooling agent such as aloe vera gel or cream to soothe the affected skin
  • Using an antibiotic ointment along with a loose gauze to protect the affected area from getting infected

It is important to note that the following treatments are highly discouraged as they may make the damage from the burn worse:

  • Do not use ice as a cooling agent
  • Do not apply cotton balls to the burn as the fibers may become stuck in the skin and increase the chances of infection
  • Do not use butter or eggs as they are ineffective and can increase the risk of infection

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns have more extensive damage than first-degree burns as the damage goes beyond the top layer of skin. This type of burn is often characterized by the blistering of the skin and the extreme soreness that accompanies it.

The blisters from second-degree burns can pop open, making the affected area look wet. As the burn heals, a thick soft layer of scab-like tissue will develop over the wound, protecting the healing skin. It is extremely important to keep the affected area as clean as possible to prevent infection. This often includes covering the area with a bandage.

Second-degree burns often take about two to three weeks to heal, though more severe cases may take longer. While scarring isn’t common, a change of skin pigmentation can occur.

Here are the accepted treatments of second-degree burns:

  • Running the skin under cool water for 15 minutes or longer
  • Taking over the counter pain medication
  • Applying an antibiotic cream to the blisters to protect them from getting infected

As with first-degree burns, cotton balls should be avoided when treating the burn. You should seek medical services if the burn affects a wide area or is on the following body parts:

  • Face
  • Hands
  • Buttocks
  • Groin
  • Feet

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns are the most severe. They cause extensive damage that includes every layer of skin. Third-degree burns are often not felt, as the damage can affect the nerves resulting in the individual feeling numb.

Depending on the cause and severity of the third-degree burn, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Skin can look waxy and white
  • The skin can look char
  • The skin can take on a dark brown color
  • The skin becomes raised and leathery
  • The skin has blisters that do not fully develop or pop

Third-degree burns often cause severe scarring and contracture, which is the severe tightening of the muscles and tendons. Unlike first and second-degree burns, third-degree burns do not have a timeline in which the skin should be healed.

Always call 911 immediately after an accident that causes a third-degree burn. Only professional medical treatment should be used to treat the burn as extensive damage to the nerves, muscles, and tendons may occur. Do not get undressed but make sure that there is no clothing stuck to the burn. Also, if possible, raise the injury above your heart.

What Should I Do If I Sustain a Burn Injury From an Accident?

There are several steps you should take after you have sustained a burn injury due to an accident. These are as follows:

  • Stop the Burn: Your first priority should be to stop the source of the burn. For example, if it is a chemical burn, make sure to rinse your skin off under cold water to avoid further damage.
  • Assess Your Injury: Depending on the severity of your injury, you will want to either apply home treatments (for first-degree and second-degree burns) or seek out medical attention immediately for more severe burns.
  • Take Pictures of the Accident Site and Any Injuries: If you are able, take pictures of the accident site and the injuries you have sustained. These, along with the records from your medical treatments, will be able to paint a clear picture as to what happened and what will need to be done to ensure that you can successfully recover.
  • Contact an Experienced Burn Injury Attorney: Severe burns can result in the need for medical treatment, missed time from work, and emotional suffering. Having an experienced burn injury attorney on your side can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve to aid with your recovery.

The Personal Injury Team That Fights for You

When you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another party, you can rely on the team at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. to be there for you. We proudly represent the hardworking individuals of Dallas, Abilene, and Amarillo, guiding them through the litigation process and making sure their voices are heard. We work hard to help you get the compensation you deserve while you focus on recovering from your injury. Contact our team today for more information on our services or to schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.