Burns

Skin is the largest organ of the human body, and its functions include regulating body temperature and acting as a barrier between the environment and the body.

The skin is made up of three layers;

  • The epidermis (outer layer of skin) – is 0.5 – 1.5mm thick. There a five layers of cells that work their way up to the surface of the skin.
  • The dermis (underlying layer of fibrous tissue) – is 0.3 – 3mmthick and made of three different types of tissue. The dermis contains hair follicles and sweat glands, together with small blood vessels and nerves.
  • The subcutaneous fat (final layer of fat and tissue) – thickness varies from person to person. Contains larger blood vessels and nerves, as well as regulating the body’s temperature.

What is a burn?

A burn is damage to the body’s tissues.

There are four main types of burn which are classified according to their depth and extent of the skin damage, they are as follows;

 

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  • First degree burns
  • Second degree burns
  • Third degree burns
  • Fourth degree burns
  • First degree burns

    Also known as superficial epidermal burns. The epidermis is damaged. The skin will be red, slightly swollen and painful.

  • Second degree burns

    Second degree burns can be either superficial dermal burns or deep dermal/partial thickness burns.

    In the cases of superficial dermal burns the epidermis and part of the dermis are damaged. The skin will be pale pink, painful and there may be small blisters.

    With deep dermal/partial thickness burns the epidermis and the dermis are damaged. The skin will be red and blotchy. The skin may also be dry or moist, swollen and blistered. This type of burn may be very painful or painless.

  • Third degree burns

    Or full thickness burns, involves all three layers of the skin being damaged. The skin is often burnt away and the tissue underneath may appear pale or blackened. The skin will be dry and white or brown or black with no blisters. The texture will be leathery or waxy.

  • Fourth degree burns

    Fourth degree burns occur when full thickness burns extend into the muscle and bone.