There is a kind of cavalier attitude that most people have about burns. Everyone has at one point been burned, deliberately while daring each other to touch the smoking tip of a match, or accidentally while ironing. These are minor burns and do not usually require a trip to the hospital or doctor, so one can afford to shrug it off with a wince and a smile. But when a burn is serious then it not only requires immediate and extensive medical attention, it can be life-changing if not fatal, so should be taken very seriously.

The skin is the largest organ of the body, and is primarily designed to provide a protective layer between the body and the outside environment. Breaching the skin by burning can have significant effects on the integrity of the body’s immune system as well as other systems, depending on the cause. A burn can be caused by heat, chemicals, radiation, friction, and electrical current, and when it is serious enough, it can go all the way to the bone. There are four types of burns based on its severity.

First degree (superficial) burns are the most minor of burns and involve only the top layer of the skin (epidermis). A good example is sunburn, which can be uncomfortable and painful but is easily treated with over-the-counter topical creams and perhaps mild pain medication. First degree burns are usually dry. The effects usually pass after a couple of days, and the skin almost always heals completely.

Second degree burns are more serious and much more painful, penetrating into the second layer of the skin or the dermis. Severe sunburn may be considered a second degree burn. This type of burn is usually moist and red, forms blisters, and needs professional medical attention to make sure it is properly cleaned. A second degree burn, if left untreated, can lead to infections. It takes longer for a second degree burn to heal but usually leaves no scars, unless it penetrates deep into the dermis.

Third degree burns penetrate straight through the dermis and kills off most of the nerves in the affected area, which is why it is less painful than a second degree burn. However, because the affected area is effectively dead, all the tissue, including damaged skin and muscle, needs to be removed. Extreme third degree burns may necessitate amputation. It takes a long time for a third degree burn victim to recover.

Fourth degree burns are when the damage is so extensive that it goes all the way to the bone. In most cases, this means amputation of the affected area, and often leads to death.

Burns are one of the common complications of accidents. According to the website of Sampson Law Firm, this can have traumatic consequences. When serious burns result from the negligence of a third party, it is just right to seek compensation. Consult with a burn injury lawyer to know your rights and legal options.