There are several types of burns, it's important to know the difference between them and when to seek professional care for burns.

Types of Burns: Identify Burn Degrees

There are different types and varying degrees of burns. Knowing the difference between the severity and types of burns can be important for care. Not all burns will require professional care, but it is very important to know when they do. INTEGRIS Health has burn treatment centers ready to serve Oklahomans and provide the care you need for recovery.

Here's what to do if you're burned. 

First-Degree Burns

First-Degree Burns are superficial and only involve the outer layer of skin. Signs to look for in determining a first-degree burn include:

  • Red and tender skin
  • Heals over three to six days
  • Similar to a sunburn

If your burn matches these symptoms, professional care is probably not needed.

Second-Degree Burn

Referred to as a "partial-thickness" burn, a second-degree burn is similar to a first-degree burn in that it also affects the outer layer of your skin. The increased severity of a second-degree burn impacts the inner layer of the skin and causes damage to that deeper layer. Signs to look for from second degree burns include:

  • Skin will be red and blistered
  • Severe pain is present due to damaged nerve endings
  • Healing time can range anywhere from seven to 28 days

Recovery from a second-degree burn can be impacted by several factors:

  • Age
  • Medical History
  • Nutritional Status
  • Location of the burn
  • Size and depth of the burn
  • Complications, such as infection

Second-degree burns do not necessarily need medical attention and can be treated with over-the-counter medication. However, if the burn is large or becomes infected, you should seek medical care to ensure it is properly treated.

Third-Degree Burn

A third-degree burn is referred to as a "full thickness" burn and destroys the outer and inner layer of the skin. Damage is extensive and can lead to scarring at the site of the burn. Signs to look for include:

  • Limited or no pain at the site of the burn due to damaged nerves
  • A whitish or charred appearance that has a tough, leathery feeling
  • The outer edges of a third-degree burn are often second-degree burns

Healing usually requires skin grafts and you should seek immediate professional burn treatment in the event of a severe burn. Infection is highly likely with a third-degree burn if you are not careful and treatment should not be delayed.

Fourth-Degree Burn

A fourth-degree burn is sometimes used to refer to burns that affect structures such as tendon, muscle or bone in addition to the destruction of both layers of skin. Identifiers of a fourth-degree burn include:

  • Appearance is white or charred
  • Surgical treatment is often necessary
  • Amputation may be necessary
  • Electrical burns frequently cause these burns

Electrical Burn

Electrical burns can cause severe damage throughout the body. Electrical burns should be treated quickly and by professionals. Signs to look for in electrical burns include:

  • Electrical burns usually have an entrance and exit wound because the current enters at one point and leave the body at another point
  • Exit wounds are often larger than entrance wounds, giving the appearance that the current "exploded" as it left the body
  • The visual size of the burn may not reflect the extent or depth of the injury