Health Encyclopedia

Third-Degree Burns

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns, also called full-thickness burns, injure all the layers of the skin as well as the fatty tissue beneath them. These are serious burns that can affect the skin's ability to grow back.

A third-degree burn can cause severe pain. But if nerve endings are damaged, the burn may not hurt right away. Third-degree burns may look white, cherry red, or black, and they do not change color when you press on them (they do not blanch). Although blisters may develop, the burn is mostly dry, hard, and leathery-looking.

Common causes of third-degree burns are steam, hot oil, grease, chemicals, electrical currents, and hot liquids.

Infection is a major concern with third-degree burns. These burns always require care from a doctor. With small burns, new skin sometimes grows in from unburned areas. Large burns may require skin grafts and surgery.

Last Revised: December 27, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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