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A burn injury is one of the most common types of injury there is, occurring just as easily in the home as at a jobsite. Construction workers and contractors deal with many situations from which burns can result. Hot metal sitting under the sun can blister the fingers almost instantly and the risk of severe burns from a welding torch mishap or a site fire remains. Knowing how to treat different degrees of burns can not only help to keep damage from being more severe, it can actually save lives.

Degrees of Burns

The term “burn,” of course, refers to the stinging sensation you feel radiating across your skin when you receive this type of injury. With a burn, the epidermal, subepidermal and still deeper layers of skin tissue may become damaged enough to kill the affected cells. In most cases, people recover from burns naturally over time and without major consequences to health. However, more serious burns require immediate medical attention.

There are actually four classifications of burns. The physical symptoms include:

  • First Degree Burns: the skin is red, but does not present any sort of blisters or open wounds.
  • Second Degree Burns: the skin thickens and blisters, often appearing moist or wet
  • Third Degree Burns: the skin becomes thick and leathery, turns white and scars over time.
  • Fourth Degree Burns: in the case of a fourth degree burn, the damage extends below the skin and affects the bones and tendons.

First Degree Burns

In a first degree burn the damage to the skin is minimal. Such burns are superficial and generally result in inflammation, redness, pain and peeling as the burn heals. These afflictions can be treated with topical medications such as aloe vera and over-the-counter antibiotic ointments. Upon injury, running cool, rather than cold, water over the wound for several minutes can lessen the severity of the pain and discomfort experienced.

First degree burns usually heal within a week.

Second Degree Burns

More serious than first degree burns, the damage from a second degree burn extends to the second layer of the skin (the dermis). Blisters appear and the pain is more intense. If blisters burst, the burn will appear wet.

These types of burns must be tended to with care. Immediately soak the burn in cool water for up to 15 minutes. Keep bandages clean and change them frequently. Use topical antibiotics. Most burns of this nature heal within three weeks, but the worst cases may require medical attention and skin grafts to repair the damage.

Third and Fourth Degree Burns

The worst burns you can suffer, these cause extensive tissue damage which can enter the bloodstream, bones and organs. Burns of this nature can lead to death. Ironically, these burns can hurt the least due to the destruction of nerves under the skin. If the skin turns leathery, waxy and white or appears charred, you likely have a third-degree burn. Do not try to treat these burns yourself. Immediately seek medical attention and raise the burned area or limb above your heart, if possible. Keep clothing away from the burns but do not attempt to undress. With this type of burn, immediate medical attention saves lives.

Burns in the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. If you would like to investigate this kind of coverage for your business, check out our workers’ comp page and give us a call for more information today.