Understanding Burns: Types, Treatments, And More

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Understanding Burns: Types, Treatments, And More

In the normal course of our daily lives, we may accidentally touch a hot stove or spill scalding water on our hands or any other body part.

Understanding Burns: Types, Treatments And More

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In an instant, the skin turns red, blisters start forming, and an intense, searing pain radiates through your body. These are the immediate effects of a burn injury. Burn injuries can have serious consequences if not properly treated. 

What is a burn?

A burn is a skin injury resulting from exposure to heat, chemicals, electricity, or radiation. Burns can vary in severity, ranging from minor to potentially fatal. 

Types of Burns:

Based on the severity there are four main types of burns. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for effective treatment. 

First-degree burns are the mildest form of burns. They typically result in redness, pain, and swelling. These burns generally heal within a week.

Second-degree burns: Second-degree burns are a step up in severity from first-degree burns. They result in the formation of blisters, along with redness, pain, and swelling. Healing from second-degree burns typically takes several weeks.

Third-degree burns: They are classified as a severe form of burn. These burns inflict damage on the outermost layer of the skin and can extend into the deeper layers. Healing from third-degree burns may require several months or even years.

Fourth-degree burns: They are the most severe type of burn. They destroy all layers of skin and may also damage underlying tissue, muscle, and bone. Fourth-degree burns are usually fatal.

Based on the source of injury, burns can be categorised into the following different types:

Thermal burns: When the skin comes into contact with a heat source such as fire, hot liquids, steam, or hot objects the burn received is known as a thermal burn. Thermal burns can range from mild to severe, depending on factors like temperature and duration of exposure.

Chemical burns: When the skin comes in contact with corrosive substances such as acids, alkalis, or strong cleaning agents, it develops chemical burns. These burns can cause damage to internal organs in addition to the skin if the chemicals are ingested or inhaled.

Electrical burns: When an electric current passes through the body, causing injury to the skin and underlying tissues it is known as electrical burn. In the case of electrical burns, external damage may not reflect the internal injuries that can result from the passage of electricity.

Radiation burns: Radiation burns are caused due to exposure to radiation, whether from the sun, tanning beds, or medical treatments like radiation therapy. These burns can cause damage to the skin and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Friction burns: Friction burns are caused by the rubbing or scraping of the skin against a rough surface. They are common in situations such as road accidents, sports injuries, or falls.

Treatment and first aid

Prompt and appropriate treatment is crucial in managing burn injuries. Here are some essential steps to take in providing first aid for burns:

  1. Remove the hot object from the affected area immediately to prevent further damage.

  2. Cool the burned area with cold running water for at least 10-20 minutes in case of thermal burns. This will help reduce pain, minimise swelling, and prevent the burn from worsening. Do not use ice or icy water, as it can further damage the skin.

  3. Cover the burn with a sterile, non-stick dressing or a clean cloth to protect it from infection. Avoid using adhesive bandages directly on the burn, as they can stick to the skin and cause further damage.

  4. For pain relief and inflammation reduction, you can consider taking over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. However, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

  5. Depending on the severity and extent of the burn, it may be necessary to seek medical attention. Second-degree burns larger than three inches in diameter burns on the face, hands, feet, or genitals, and burns caused by chemicals or electricity should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Prevention and Safety Measures

  1. Preventing burns is always better than treating them. Here are some preventive measures to reduce the risk of burns:

  2. Install smoke detectors in your home and regularly check their functionality. Have fire extinguishers readily available and ensure everyone in your household knows how to use them. 

  3. Use oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves when handling hot pots, pans, or dishes. Always keep children away from the stove and always turn pot handles inward to prevent accidental spills. 

  4. Cleaning agents and other potentially hazardous chemicals should be stored out of reach of children. Use protective gloves and eyewear when handling chemicals, and ensure proper ventilation in areas where they are used.


Burns are a common form of injury that can have serious consequences if not properly understood and treated. Remember, in case of severe burns or any doubts, always seek immediate medical attention. Stay safe, informed, and be proactive in preventing and managing burn injuries for a healthier and happier life.

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.