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Understand the severity of a third-degree burn

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2021 | Serious Injuries

Burn injuries take both a physical and emotional toll on a person. Though it isn’t particularly common for crashes to involve burns, if a vehicle carrying chemicals dumps those toxins or an engine breaks out in a fire, those involved in crashes could be seriously injured.

Burn injuries from crashes may be ranked on the typical burn injury scale, which has three primary levels. There are first-degree, second-degree and third-degree burns on this scale.

What can you expect if you suffer the worst type of burn?

A third-degree burn is the worst type based on this three-category scale. With a third-degree burn, every layer of skin is damaged. The burns are so extensive that the patient may actually not be in significant pain due to the nerves being destroyed.

Third-degree burns present clearly. Medical providers look for:

  • Blisters that don’t continue to develop
  • Leathery, raised skin
  • Charred skin
  • Waxy, white skin
  • Dark brown skin where the skin has been burnt

Third-degree burns are unlikely to heal well on their own. Normally, they produce severe scarring and cause contracture. In fact, these burns heal so oddly that there is no known timeline to predict how fast a patient could recover.

What are the complications of serious burn injuries?

Serious burn injuries can increase the risk of shock, blood loss, infections and death. Burns have a high risk of infection as a result of the skin being destroyed, so bacteria can enter easily.

Another potential complication is tetanus. Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects the nervous system and can result in the muscles contracting tightly. Those who have not received a tetanus shot in the last several years may be given one if they have severe burns.

Other complications include a risk of hypovolemia and hypothermia, since the body cannot regulate its own temperature well and may not be able to clot the blood any longer. Rapid blood loss, as well as an inability to raise the body’s temperature, can lead to these both occurring together.

Burn injuries are serious and require immediate medical attention. If you or someone you know is ever badly burnt, call 911 and wait for assistance.