When the skin comes in contact with something hot, it may be damaged, with death of cells in the skin.  The severity of the injury depends on the intensity of the heat and the length of time that it is in contact with either heat or certain chemicals.  


Degrees of burns

Burns are classified by the depth of injury, which helps determine the appropriate treatment (Figures 1 and 2).


  • 1st Degree: Superficial - redness of skin without blisters 
  • 2nd Degree: Partial thickness skin damage - blisters present
  • 3rd Degree: Full thickness skin damage - skin is white and leathery
  • 4th Degree: Same as third degree but with damage to deeper structures such as tendons, joints and bone