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Understanding the different kinds of burn injuries

Whether at home, at work or in a car, you face the risk of receiving a burn injury. In 2016 alone, 40,000 were hospitalized for burn injuries nationwide. About 73% of these injuries happened at home, while 8% of burn injuries happened in workplaces and 5% on streets and highways.

A burn can be one of the most painful injuries of your life. In addition, you can suffer four different categories of burns as follows:

  • Thermal burns: These are burns you receive when you come into contact with the flames or heat of an explosion or touch a hot object.
  • Scald burns: These are burns you receive when you come into contact with hot liquids, usually water or cooking oil.
  • Electrical burns: These are burns you receive when you come into contact with a downed power line, a malfunctioning electrical appliance, a frayed electrical cord, etc.
  • Chemical burns: These are burns you receive when you come into contact with a caustic material such as toilet bowl or drain cleaners, some detergents, sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid.

Burn degrees

In addition to four separate burn categories, there also are four separate degrees of burns. If you ever suffered a sunburn, that was a first-degree burn. As you may remember, your skin got red and its top layer likely peeled off as your sunburn healed. If you sustained a really bad sunburn, that was a second-degree burn. It went below your top skin layer and likely caused your skin to blister. When the blisters popped open, they likely "wept." This is the main concern with second-degree burns. Since they are open wounds, they can become infected. They also take several weeks to heal.

A third-degree burn affects not only your skin, but also the tissues and organs beneath your skin. Surprisingly enough, while you would expect a third-degree burn to be exceptionally painful, many are not. This is not good news, however. If you don't feel pain with a third-degree burn, the reason is that the burn damaged your nerves that allow you to feel it.

If you receive a fourth-degree burn, this is a life-threatening injury. These burns are very deep, extending all the way through your skin and tissue to your tendons and bones. Both third- and fourth-degree burns can leave lasting disfiguring scars.

Any burn above the first-degree level is potentially serious. Therefore, you should seek immediate medical treatment if you suffer one. Only a trained burn specialist has the necessary qualifications to assess the damage and recommend the appropriate treatment. Depending on how deep your burn goes, you may require surgery and/or skin grafting to minimize its effects.

If your burn injury happened as the result of negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering. In this case, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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