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Third-Degree Burns - Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

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Summary about Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns, also called full-thickness burns, are a type of burn that damages the underlying tissue and the skin. They're more severe than first- or second-degree burns and they almost always necessitate skin grafts. A person with a third-degree burn will need to be admitted to the hospital. The extent, severity, and location of the burn will determine the treatment.

If someone suspects they have a third-degree burn, they should seek medical help right away. These burns and their complications can be fatal if not treated.

Symptoms of Third-Degree Burns

Common symptoms of third-degree burns are:

  • skin discoloration, including the skin, becoming grey, white, black, yellow, brown
  • skin appearing leathery, dry, waxy
  • swelling
  • a lack of pain because of damage to the nerve endings

Causes of Third-Degree Burns

Contact or exposure to the following will usually result in third-degree burns:

  • chemicals such as acids
  • flames
  • scalding liquids
  • flash from an explosive blast
  • electricity
  • contact with a very hot object for an extended period


Treatment for third-degree burns may include:

  • Surgery: Burns of the third degree usually necessitate multiple surgeries to remove burned tissue from the burn site.
  • Skin graft: Because third-degree burns do not heal on their own, a skin graft is frequently required. Natural skin grafts, artificial skin products, and laboratory-grown skin may all be used by a doctor.
  • Intravenous fluids: Some patients may receive some extra fluids to maintain blood pressure and avoid shock.
  • Medication: To prevent infection and relieve pain, a person will most likely be given various medications, including antibiotics and pain relievers.
  • Tetanus shot: Because tetanus bacteria are more likely to cause infections through burn wounds, a tetanus shot may be given to prevent infection.

Preventive Measures of Third-Degree Burns

  • Do not leave hot liquids in cups, mugs, or bowls on the table's edge. Turn the pot handles away from the front of the stove.
  • A lit cigarette should not be left unattended. Check to see if it's still lit. Then safely dispose of it.
  • Keep dangerous items out of children's reach. Keep cigarette lighters, matches, and chemicals out of reach of children.
  • Keep the temperature of the water heater to low or medium.