No injury is pleasant, but burns can be especially devastating. Even “mild” burns can be incredibly painful, require intensive medical treatment, and lead to scars that damage your psychological well-being. Because burns destroy the skin’s surface, there’s also a high likelihood of infections and other complications during the healing process.

There are many different types and causes of burns, and each has slightly different consequences. Here’s what you need to know about burn injuries and their treatment.

What Causes Burns?

When most people think of burns, they imagine touching a hot stove or getting caught in a house fire. Flames and extreme heat are two possible causes of burns, but they aren’t the only ones. These are some of the primary types and causes of both mild and severe burns:

Thermal Burns

If your burn came from exposure to heat, it’s a thermal burn. However, fire and hot stoves aren’t the only causes of these burns.

Here are some of the most common causes of thermal burns:

  • Hot or scalding liquid
  • Steam
  • Open flames
  • Hot metals

Thermal burns cause damage by very suddenly raising the temperature of your skin. Once your skin gets hot enough, your skin cells will begin to die.

Cold Burns

While your skin can get so hot that your skin cells die, it’s also possible for your skin to get cold enough that skin cells are destroyed. Cold burns are more commonly called “frostbite.”

Chemical Burns

If you aren’t careful, even regular household products can cause burns. Very strong detergents, acids, or solvents can cause chemical burns. Just like thermal and cold burns, severe chemical burns can cause permanent scarring and other long-term issues. If you work with dangerous chemicals on a regular basis, you may be more likely to suffer a chemical burn.

Radiation Burns

Sunburn is a (usually) mild kind of radiation burn. You can also get a radiation burn from X-rays, radiation used to treat cancer, and other kinds of radiation. Usually, these burns cause relatively mild symptoms.

Electrical Burns

If you’ve ever come into contact with an electrical current, you know how painful it can be. Mild currents may cause temporary discomfort, but very strong electrical currents can cause permanent disability or death. The burn itself comes from the way your body handles the sudden current — your body converts the electricity to heat, which causes an electrical burn.

It’s possible to have a life-threatening electrical burn even when your skin looks barely affected. In some cases, the electrical current can cause the burning of organs and other internal tissues.

Friction Burns

Friction burns happen when your skin rubs against a hard object. The friction between your body and the object generates heat, and in some cases, that heat is high enough to cause injury.

Severe friction burns can be very painful, as they combine a burn injury with abrasions. A common example of a friction burn is the “road rash” you may get if you’re involved in a motorcycle or bicycle accident.

What Are the Levels of Burn Severity?

There are four levels of burn severity: first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, and fourth-degree. The higher the degree of the burn, the more serious it is.

However, it’s important that you do not attempt to diagnose the severity of a burn yourself. Trained medical personnel will be able to determine the extent of your injuries and what treatment is needed.

First-Degree Burns

If you get a first-degree burn, you might not even seek medical attention. These burns impact the very outer layer of your skin. They might cause irritation and redness, but you generally won’t develop blistering. A mild sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn — it’s uncomfortable, but it usually heals with some aloe.

Second-Degree Burns

These burns go one level deeper. First-degree burns damage the epidermis (the outermost layer) of your skin, but second-degree burns damage both the epidermis and the dermis (the skin layer right underneath the epidermis). These burns are noticeably worse than first-degree burns. Because the damage goes so deep, burns will often appear wet or shiny.

Second-degree burns cause large amounts of redness and swelling, and they’re much more painful than first-degree burns. They are also more likely to blister.

Third-Degree Burns

These burns are worse than second-degree burns, so you may be surprised to learn that they don’t hurt. That’s because the tissue damage goes deep enough that nerve endings are destroyed. Because a third-degree burn destroys all layers of skin, the burned area will usually turn white, black, brown, or yellow — not red.

Fourth-Degree Burns

These burns may be fatal, and at the very least, they cause significant complications. This kind of burn doesn’t just destroy your skin. It also goes deep enough to damage or destroy muscles, tendons, and even bones.

How Are Burns Treated?

Healing from burns is often a complex process, and very serious burns sometimes require years of rehabilitation.

The specific treatment needed will depend on the kind of burn, but these are some common elements of burn treatment:

  • Pain medication
  • Ultrasound misting to clean the wound and encourage it to heal
  • Burn-specific creams or ointments
  • Wound dressings
  • IV antibiotics (if an infection is a serious risk)

If your burns are significant, you may be transferred to a burn center. These treatment centers focus specifically on burn healing, and they often have access to state-of-the-art treatments. If your burns are severe enough that you will need skin grafting, you’ll likely go to a burn center for care. These centers can sometimes even grow cultured skin from your own skin cells if they can’t take grafts from the rest of your body.

Often, if you have a very severe burn, you will need physical or occupational therapy to help you return to normal activities. Permanent scarring can cause significant emotional pain, so you might find you want to consult a therapist or other mental health professional. Burn centers also often host (or can direct you to) support groups for those who have suffered burn injuries like yours.

Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer Who Will Fight For You After Suffering Burns in Louisiana?

Healing from a serious injury is an overwhelming experience on its own. So, if you’re like many people, pursuing a personal injury claim while you’re healing can seem unrealistic.

When you choose Kenny Habetz Injury Law, you gain an experienced ally. Kenny started his firm to help people like you navigate difficult situations. If you’ve suffered a burn or other injury because of someone else, he might be able to help you, too. Fill out the online contact form or call — there’s someone available 24/7 to speak with you.