A to Z: Burn, Third-Degree
More to Know
Third-degree burns are most often caused by direct extended contact with fire, heated objects, steam, hot liquids, chemicals, or electrical currents.
With a third-degree burn, the surface of the skin will be swollen and appear dry, waxy white, leathery, brown, or charred. There may be severe pain or little or no pain because of nerve damage. Some burn victims go into shock.
If someone you know suffers a third-degree burn, call 911 immediately. Make sure he or she is in a safe place but don't remove burned clothing or immerse severe burns in water. Do not use ice or butter. Instead, the burn can be covered with a clean, cool, and moist sterile bandage, cloth, or towel. If possible, elevate the burned body part(s) above the level of the heart.
Once at the hospital, treatment may include cleaning the affected area and removing dead skin and tissue; IV fluids; oral, topical, or intravenous (IV) antibiotics; and pain medications. Often, doctors must do a skin graft — a surgical procedure in which healthy skin is taken from an unburned part of the body and placed on the wound to help it heal.
Keep in Mind
Third-degree burns are a serious medical emergency and can be life threatening. If treated promptly, however, many burn cases can have good outcomes.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) This federal agency collects information about consumer goods and issues recalls on unsafe or dangerous products.|
|American Red Cross The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and works to keep people safe every day. The website has information on first aid, safety, and more.|
|National Fire Prevention Association This nonprofit organization provides fire safety information and education.|
|Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents You might think of babies and toddlers when you hear the words "babyproofing" or "childproofing," but unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under.|
|Fire Safety Would you know what to do if a fire started in your home? Would your kids? Check out our fire safety tips.|
|Burns Burns, especially scalds from hot water and liquids, are some of the most common childhood accidents. Minor burns often can be safely treated at home, but more serious burns require medical care.|
|Household Safety: Preventing Burns, Shocks, and Fires Burns are a potential hazard in every home. In fact, burns - especially scalds from hot water and liquids - are some of the most common childhood accidents. Here's how to protect kids from burns.|
|Sun Safety By teaching kids how to enjoy fun in the sun safely, parents can reduce their risk for developing skin cancer.|
|Burns Instruction Sheet Burns from fire or other sources of heat range from mild to life-threatening. Some burns can be treated at home; others need emergency medical care. Find out what to do in this printer-friendly sheet.|
|Fireworks Safety The summer heat, the smell of hamburgers on the grill, and the sound of fireworks can only mean one thing: It's the Fourth of July. Before your family celebrates, make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety.|
|A to Z: Burn, Second-Degree A second-degree burn affects the top two layers of skin (the epidermis and dermis). It is more serious than a first-degree burn.|
|A to Z: Burn, First-Degree A first-degree burn is a minor burn that only affects the top layer of skin, or epidermis. It is the mildest of the three types of burns (first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree).|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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