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Classification of Burn Injuries

A burn injury is classified according to the Total Body Surface Area affected (TBSA&). Some burn injuries may be minor and occur in the home by touching boiling water or a hot iron, while serious burn injuries may occur by radiation, electrical sources or chemical liquids.


There are several methods which medical professionals use to determine how serious a burn injury is. Immediately after a burn has been sustained, it is crucial that an adequate assessment of the injury is completed straight away. It is vital that the patient’s air way, circulation and ventilation are not compromised by the burn.

Medical professionals will assess the magnitude of the burn and consider the total area surface, depth and presence of inhalation of the burn injury. After this initial assessment, a care plan will be created for the patient, identifying the classification and correct treatment.

Burn Injury Assessment

It is advised that patients suffering from a burn injury must have a highly nutritional diet as this makes the healing process faster.

Many burn sufferers face emotional distress after the accident, therefore medical professionals check the patient’s mental health and provide advice on how to deal with body image and grief. This is more common for sufferers who have sustained a serious burn injury.


What are classifications of burn injuries?

1st Degree burns (Superficial)

First-degree burns are classed as ‘minor’ injuries which affect only the outer-layer of skin. The skin may turn red, dry and painful but should not create blisters. The affected area will peel and become itchy once it reaches the healing process. The skin is rarely affected long-term.

Mild sunburn and flash burns are the most common causes of first-degree burns. This type of burn can be treated using lotions and ointments to cool the skin and keep the area moist. Patients may also apply cold compresses to the area.

Sunburn Injury


2nd Degree burns (Partial thickness)

Second-degree burns usually affect the epidermis and the dermis layer of the skin. This type of burn is slightly more serious than a first-degree burn. Skin will be red, blistered and will be painful and swollen.

Scalds, contact with flames or a hot object are the main causes of second-degree burns. This burn injury must be cleaned daily to remove any dead skin. Patients will need to use antibiotic ointments and must dress the wound depending on the severity of the burn. A dressing must be changed at least twice a day to avoid infection.

Second-degree burns are often quite painful to treat and may cause the patient some discomfort. A pain reliever may be taken, but must always be checked by a medical professional first depending on any other medication the patient may be taking.


Burn Injury


3rd Degree burns (Full thickness)

Third-degree burns are the most serious and are referred to full-thickness burns. In effect, they seriously damage the epidermis and the dermis. Skin will become dry and leathery and may experience some discolouration, often turning black, white, brown or yellow depending on the patient’s skin. Although the most serious of burns, third-degree burns do not cause a lot of pain due to nerve endings being destroyed.

Sufferers sustain third-degree burns usually when they come into contact with chemical or electrical sources, a scalding hot object or liquid and flames.

Treatment for third-degree burns will depend on the severity of the burn and by the amount of TBSA% affected.

Common treatments include pain medications, antibiotic ointments, intravenous (IV) fluids containing electrolytes. Patients also find nutritional supplements useful during the healing process as well as a high-protein diet to aid recovery.

With a burn of this severity, the first thing a medical professional must do is clean and debride the area.

In extreme cases a skin graft may be required to achieve closure of the wounded area.  A skin graft involves the removal of unburned skin to cover the burned area. Skin grafts are performed in the operating room by a surgeon.


Claiming for burn injuries

Whatever the seriousness if a burn injury wasn’t your fault you may be eligible to make a compensation claim. The important factor when considering whether there is a viable claim for burn injury compensation is whether there is available evidence that helps demonstrate that the burn injury was caused by another party’s negligence.

At Carter and Carter Solicitors we understand the distress and pain burn injuries cause. One of our friendly and experienced solicitors are a hand to give you the answers to your questions. We have a vast knowledge and experience of dealing with burn injuries and pride ourselves in being able to offer you friendly and professional advice in relation to your burn injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have got questions about a burn injury or any other type of serious injury claim, complete our free enquiry or call us on 0800 652 0586.