Superficial thickness burns, sometimes referred to as first degree burns, includes damage to the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). These burns are usually characterized by redness, pain, moderate to severe tenderness, and no blisters.
A sunburn is the most common reason for a superficial thickness burn. Healing usually occurs in 3-5 days, as the epithelium peels away from the healthy skin.
Superficial partial thickness burns, one of two types classified as a second degree, involves damage to the epidermis and upper layers of the dermis. Wound may be pink, red, or wet appearing. They are often painful and healing should occur around 10-21 days.
Blisters are characteristic of superficial partial thickness burns. Advise patients not to break the blisters as this can lead to infection.
Superficial partial thickness burns will blanch (temporary whitening of skin) when pressure is applied.
Deep partial thickness burns, the second type of second degree, involves damage to the entire epidermis and most of the dermis. Unlike superficial partial thickness, these burns will appear dry and can be red or white. Sensation may be present, but is often diminished. Skin grafting may be necessary to heal.
Blanching of the skin is often sluggish or absent in deep partial thickness burns.
Full thickness burns, previously referred to as third-degree burns, involve damage to all layers of the skin, possibly extending into subcutaneous tissue. Involvement of muscles, tendons, and bones is even more severe and is sometimes referred to as a deep full thickness or fourth degree burn. Surgical intervention is often required for healing.
Skin can appear waxy white, yellow, or black. The texture of the skin may appear leathery.
There is often decreased or no pain sensation due to nerve destruction.
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