Burn Injury Degrees

Burn injuries can be mild, moderate or severe.

First-degree burns are considered mild and can usually be treated at home because they usually only damage the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis). Although painful, first-degree burns do not require extensive medical attention unless a large portion of the victim's body is covered or major joints are affected.

  • To treat a first-degree burn, run cool (not cold) water over it for several minutes. Do not put ice on the injury.
  • Cooling the burn will reduce pain and swelling.
  • If the burn is persistently painful, you may take an over-the-counter painkiller like Aspirin or Advil.
  • First-degree burns usually heal within one or two weeks of the initial damages, but may increase the victim's likelihood of developing skin cancer later in life.

Second-degree burns may be treated as mild burns, unless a large portion of the victim's body is covered by the injury. Second-degree burns affect the epidermis and second layer of the skin – the superficial (papillary) dermis.

Also called superficial partial thickness burns, second-degree burns are identifiable by redness, swelling, blanches and clear blisters.

  • To treat a second-degree burn, you may allow cool water to run over it for a short amount of time.
  • Like a first-degree burn, cooling the injury may help reduce pain and swelling.
  • If necessary, you may apply a cool compress (made with damp cloth) to the injury. A cool compress allows heat to escape the injury and reduces pain and swelling.
  • Second-degree burns may take several weeks to heal. Because second-degree burns do not involve nerve damage, they can be extremely painful.

Third-degree burns are very serious – even life-threatening. Third-degree burns extend through the entirety of the dermis and are identifiable by their stiff texture and brown coloring and may feel dry and leathery to the touch.

If you encounter a third-degree burn victim, do not attempt to remove any clothing touching the burn. Call for medical help immediately.

  • To treat a third-degree burn victim, elevate the injury above the victim's heart.
  • Third-degree burns may cause the victim to go into shock.
  • It is imperative that ice is never applied to a major burn.

Sometimes, extremely severe burns are categorized as fourth-degree burn injuries.

Fourth-degree burns extend through all layers of the skin and may involve damage to muscles, tissue, ligaments, fat and bones. Fourth-degree burns are painless and may appear charred or black. Major burns (third- and fourth-degree injuries) may result in severe impairment, amputation and significant scarring. In extreme cases, major burns may cause gangrene and death.

Consult An Attorney At McCoy & McCoy

Have you suffered a preventable burn injury? You may be entitled to financial compensation. At McCoy & McCoy, we are wholeheartedly committed to helping accident victims collect the money they need for past, present and future medical bills, doctor's visits, medical supplies, missed wages and other injury-related expenses.

Serious injuries may leave victims with decreased work potential and other permanent complications. If you or a loved one has sustained a burn injury at work, in a car accident or another situation caused by someone else's carelessness or negligence, a lawyer from our firm can help you file a claim for the full and fair compensation you need and deserve.

Our principal lawyer, Frank McCoy Jr., is certified in civil trial law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy — a distinction that fewer than 0.5 percent of all Connecticut lawyers have earned.

Call us today at 860-856-9283 to speak with a lawyer, or complete a free case evaluation form to get a prompt response regarding your unique case.