What are the six degrees of burn injuries?

Burn injuries are among the most serious you can ever encounter. They can be incredibly painful, and many leave lasting scars that may never entirely heal.

There are six different degrees of burns, with the first being the least serious and the sixth being the most serious.

First-degree burns are topical. These just injure the very top layer of the skin. They don't usually need treatment and will typically heal well with no lasting marks.

Second-degree burns get into the lower layers of the skin, called the dermis. They can leave scarring, and skin grafts may be needed.

Third-degree burns are more serious. These burn away all of the skin and get into the tissues below. They can burn things like sweat glands and hair follicles. Skin grafts are almost always required, and serious scarring can occur.

Fourth-degree burns reach down past the outer tissues and into the fat tissue below. Fifth-degree burns get through that protective layer of fat and into muscle tissue. Sixth-degree burns cut all the way through the muscle and reach into bone.

The deeper the burn that is suffered, the more severe the injury to the victim and the more likely that it will turn fatal. There are also many potential complications. A serious burn victim could go into shock, for example. The injury may not heal properly and could become infected. Severely damaged tissues may need to be removed entirely.

Have you been seriously injured in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, or has a loved one been killed? If so, you must know all of your rights and legal options, including the ability to seek financial compensation.

Source: National Institute of General Medical Sciences, "Burns," accessed Jan. 25, 2018

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