What Is a Burn?

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Burns. We’ve all suffered them from time to time. Maybe you picked up the pan when you shouldn’t have, brushed against an iron or bit into pizza that was too hot.
Regardless of how you got one, burns can be painful in minor instances or life-threatening in severe situations.

A burn is a tissue injury sustained by coming into contact with heat, chemicals, flame, electricity or radiation. The body’s response to a burn can range from mild redness and swelling of the skin to the death of the skin itself. It all depends on whether it’s a first-, second- or third-degree burn.

First-degree burns are the mildest type of burn. They often happen when a person touches or eats something that is simply too hot. Sunburns are also often categorized as first-degree burns. A first-degree burn causes superficial damage to the skin where the burn took place and turns the skin red. Pain and swelling are also common characteristics, and the damaged skin is usually tender to the touch.

Second-degree burns are deeper, more severe burns than their first-degree cousin. They affect the outer and the middle layers of skin. While second-degree burns share the common characteristics of first-degree burns – inflammation, redness and pain – they also commonly cause blisters on the skin.

Third-degree burns are the most severe and kill all layers of affected skin. Third-degree burns will cause the skin to appear white and leathery because the damage has reached the nerves and blood vessels. Because the nerves are often damaged in third-degree burns, it is not uncommon for victims to feel no pain in the region.

If you think you’ve suffered a serious burn, it’s best to contact 911 as soon as possible.

In the next post, we’ll learn important burn information like what kinds of people are most affected by burns.

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