While minor burns heal in a few days with first aid, serious burns require emergency medical attention. Individuals affected by severe burns may need hospitalization, skin graft surgery and extensive therapy.
Review the potential treatments and expected outcomes for life-threatening burn injuries.
Types of burns
Medical professionals classify burns as follows:
- Third-degree burns, the most severe, affect the top layer of the skin (epidermis), the underlying layers (dermis), and the fat and tissue beneath. While these burns cause serious damage, the injured person may not feel pain because of destroyed nerve endings.
- Second-degree burns affect the dermis and epidermis. They cause severe pain because nerve endings remain intact.
- First-degree burns are minor burns that do not blister and rarely require medical treatment.
Treatment for burns
Seek immediate medical attention for burns that:
- Cause difficulty breathing
- Result in patches of charred, leathery, white, brown or black skin
- Resulted from contact with electricity or harmful chemicals
- Cover a large surface of the body
- Affect a joint, the buttocks and groin area, the face, or the extremities
Left untreated, burns can result in serious complications including infection, scarring and permanent disfigurement. With treatment, the prognosis depends on the severity of the burn. People who have second-degree or third-degree burns often require lifelong assistance with daily activities, ongoing rehabilitation, treatment for chronic pain, and even surgery.
When negligence by another driver, an employer or another third party causes a debilitating burn injury, the injured person can seek legal compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other costs associated with the incident.