Burns are a common injury. Many burns occur in the home when people are cooking or using appliances like fireplaces, toasters, or electric heaters. Although most burns are mild, severe burns are serious injuries that can leave lasting scars and other complications for victims. When most people think of burns, they think of fire. However, there are many types of burns with unique characteristics. Here’s a breakdown of the main ones:
The most common burn injury is a thermal burn, or a burn caused by fire, hot surfaces, or hot liquids. Physicians call burns from hot liquid scalding, and it’s the most common type of burn young children and older adults suffer. Doctors assess the severity of a thermal burn using a degree scale, the size of the burn, and its location on the victim’s body.
Superficial burns that only affect the outermost layers of skin are first degree burns. Unless such a burn covers a large area of the body or affects a sensitive area such as the face or genitals, people can treat these burns at home using over-the-counter burn ointment and bandages.
Burns that affect the skin’s deeper layers are second degree burns. Doctors will identify these burns by the appearance of large, painful blisters on the affected area. Even small second degree burns require immediate medical attention. If a burn manages to penetrate all of the layers of the skin, it is a third degree burn. These are extremely serious wounds that require immediate medical attention and often require extensive surgical or reconstructive procedures.
Finally, there are fourth degree burns. A fourth degree burn affects the entirety of the skin through all of its layers and the tissues underneath – usually muscles, ligaments, or bone. Fourth degree burns can be life-threatening as they are open wounds, leaving the victim susceptible to infections.
Overexposure to extremely low temperatures can actually cause burns, too. One of the most common examples of this is frostbite. Cold temperature burns can also happen due to wet clothes or surfaces in very cold temperatures. Frostbite most tends to affects the extremities: the arms, legs, fingers, and toes. Without prompt medical care and in the most severe cases, victims of frostbite may require amputation of the affected area.
Contact with electrical sources or lightning can cause burns due to the intense energy of electricity. Even low voltage electrical sources can potentially cause serious burns. Electrical burns carry an additional concern as the electrical discharge can interrupt the victim’s heart rate and neurological processes, potentially killing them or causing permanent disabilities.
If you’ve ever eaten extremely spicy foods before, you’ve actually experienced a mild chemical burn. You may have noticed your fingers tingled a bit after touching something very spicy. Contact with corrosive chemicals causes chemical burns. This applies to corrosive substances that can cause serious damage as well as the inhalation of chemical fumes. Chemical gasses can cause severe burning damage to the respiratory system and brain.
Contact with a hard surface causes friction burns. An example of a mild friction burn would be a child sliding on the floor, resulting in a scraped knee. A more serious example would be road rash – a term medical professionals use to describe the wounds motorcycle riders suffer after being thrown from their bikes and sliding on the road.
Radiation burns may sound ominous, but you’ve more than likely experienced one before – sunburn is a very common example of a radiation burn. Exposure to radiation causes these burns, like the sun, radiation therapy, and tanning beds.
If you suffer a burn injury, seek medical attention as soon as possible unless the burn is very mild. If there is any room for doubt, err on the side of caution and talk to a doctor. Burns are not only painful – they can leave lasting scars and even cause permanent damage. If the burn injury occurred because of someone else’s negligence, you might be due compensation. The Riverside burn injury attorneys at Estey & Bomberger can fight for you. Call them today! 951-543-9020