Most burns are minor injuries that occur at home or work. It is common to get a minor burn from hot water, a curling iron, or touching a hot stove.
Types of Burns
Heat burns (Thermal Burns) are caused by fire, steam, hot objects, or hot liquids. Scald burns from hot liquids are the most common burns to children and older adults.
Cold temperature burns are caused by fire, steam, hot objects, or hot liquids. Scald burns from hot liquids are the most common burns to children and older adults.
Electrical burns are caused by contact with electrical sources or by lightning.
Chemical burns are caused by contact with household or industrial chemicals in a liquid, solid, or gas form. Natural foods such as chili peppers, which contain a substance irritating to the skin, can cause a burning sensation.
Radiation burns are caused by the sun, tanning booths, sunlamps, X-rays, or radiation therapy for cancer treatment.
Friction burns are caused by contact with any hard surface such as roads ("road rash"), carpets, or gym floor surfaces. They are usually both a scrape (abrasion) and a heat burn. Athletes who fall on floors, courts, or tracks may get friction burns to the skin. Motorcycle or bicycle riders who have road accidents while not wearing protective clothing also may get friction burns. For information on treatment for friction burns, see the topic Scrapes.
Burns injure the skin layers and can also injure other parts of the body, such as muscles, blood vessels, nerves, lungs, and eyes. Burns are defined as first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree, depending on how many layers of skin and tissue are burned. The deeper the burn and the larger the burned area, the more serious the burn is.
First-degree burns are burns of the first layer of skin (Sun Burns) Usually no need to go to the Doctor other than for pain control.
There are two types of second-degree burns:
Superficial partial-thickness burns injure the first and second layers of skin.
Deep partial-thickness burns injure deeper skin layers.
Third-degree burns (full-thickness burns) injure all the skin layers and tissue under the skin. These burns always require medical treatment.
Fourth-degree burns extend through the skin to injure muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and bones. These burns always require medical treatment.
When to seek care?
- Uncontrolled pain
- Need Tetanus Booster (every 5 years)
- All second degree burns and greater
2nd Degree burns (blistering/Red/Painful) can be evaluated at Accelerated Urgent Care.
3rd and 4th Degree burns should be evaluated in the Emergency Room.