- Superficial burn (e.g., sunburn): damage is limited to the epidermis; symptoms are erythema (hot red skin), pain, and edema (swelling); desquamation (peeling) of the superficial layer usually occurs several days later, but the layer is quickly replaced from the basal layer of the epidermis without significant scarring.
- Partial-thickness burn: epidermis and superficial dermis are damaged with blistering (superficial partial thickness) or loss (deep partial thickness); nerve endings are damaged, making this variety the most painful; except for their most superficial parts, the sweat glands and hair follicles are not damaged and can provide the source of replacement cells for the basal layer of the epidermis along with cells from the edges of the wound; healing occurs slowly (3 weeks to several months), leaving scarring and some contracture, but it is usually complete.
- Full-thickness burn: the entire thickness of the skin is damaged and often the subcutaneous tissue; there is marked edema and the burned area is numb since sensory endings are destroyed; minor degree of healing may occur at the edges, but the open, ulcerated portions require skin grafting: dead material (eschar) is removed and replaced (grafted) over the burned area with skin harvested (taken) from a nonburned location (autograft) or using skin from human cadavers or pigs or cultured or artificial skin.
- 4th-degree burn: damage extends through the entire thickness of the skin into underlying fascia, muscle, or bone; these injuries are life threatening.
Source: Clinically Oriented Anatomy
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