Prevention and Wellness

Premier Health Specialists’ doctors answer frequently asked questions about burns and wounds.

What are the different degrees of burns?

Dr. Perry discusses different degrees of burns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


There are four different degrees of burn depth, according to Premier Health Specialists’ (PHS) physicians.

The four degrees of burns, according to PHS physicians and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are:

  • First-degree burn – This superficial burn that is the most common type of burn. It damages only the outer layer of skin.
  • Second-degree burn – This types of burn affects both the outer layer and next layer of skin. 
  • Third-degree burn – Burns of this degree damage deeper tissue and requires surgery to try to repair the damage.
  • Fourth-degree burn – An uncommon type of burn that is usually only caused by electrical injuries. It causes damage deeper that the skin, into the muscles, tendons, and bones.

Talk to your doctor for more information about the different degrees of burns.

Learn more:

How is the degree of burn determined or diagnosed?

Dr. Perry discusses how the degree of burn is determined. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


To determine a degree of burn and a diagnosis, it’s important to seek medical attention. Burns can lead to blisters, swelling, scars and even shock and death in extreme cases, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

The degree of burn is diagnosed by the level of skin that is damaged by the burn, according to Premier Health Specialists' (PHS) physicians.

There are different levels of second-degree burns. It can take 48 to 72 hours to make a clear diagnosis of the level of burn because the burn can continue to progress during that time, according to PHS physicians.

Something that could look like a superficial second-degree burn at first, could really be a third-degree burn after 72 hours of observation, according to PHS physicians. 

For more information about how the degree of a burn is diagnosed, talk with your physician.

Learn more:

    When should a person seek medical help for a burn?

    Dr. Perry discusses different degrees of burns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


    For anything other than a very minor first-degree burn, Premier Health Specialists’ (PHS) physicians recommend seeking medical attention. 

    A first-degree burn, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP), is red and painful, but does not become “thick” looking or blister.

    With a burn, your physician will want to know how soon the burning process was stopped. With extremely bad burns, a doctor will also want to decide how soon a patient can be helped medically to begin a recovery process, according to PHS physicians.

    Talk to your doctor for more information about when to seek medical help for burns.

    Learn more:

      Travis Perry, MD, Comprehensive Burn and Wound Specialists

      Content Updated: January 4, 2019

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