Third-degree burns are some of the most severe and painful. They extend past the outermost layers of skin to the deeper, fatty layer beneath. Burns of this severity generally require skin graft surgery to close the wounds, as well as long-term follow-up care. 

What is a third-degree burn?

Burns are classified according to degree and depth of damage. First-degree burns are superficial, only affecting the outer epidermis. Second-degree burns involve damage to some of the second layer of skin, the dermis.

Third-degree burns, also referred to as full thickness burns, affect all layers of skin, damaging tissue beneath the dermis. Burns this deep can cause symptoms and effects such as the following:

  • Swelling and inflammation.
  • The skin may appear waxy, leathery, and dry.
  • The damaged area may appear black, white, brown, or yellow.
  • Lack of sensation because of nerve damage.
  • Loss of mobility in the affected area.
  • Hypothermia due to excessive heat loss.
  • Infection, including sepsis that leads to shock.

What causes third-degree burns?

Third-degree burns have many causes. The University of Rochester Medical Center lists very hot liquids, hot objects, fire, electricity, and contact with chemicals as the most common causes of third-degree burns.

It is important to tell the tending doctor what the source of your burn is. This will better equip her to treat the wound and any accompanying injuries. Identifying the cause is also important for legal reasons; if a third party caused or contributed to the burn, that party might be legally responsible for paying for your treatment and other damages. This might apply in situations such as building fires, defective equipment, and electrical shock, for instance.

How are third-degree burns treated?

Burns that covered half the body were often fatal a few decades ago, according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. But now, medical research and advancements helps people covering even 90 percent of their bodies survive.

Patients with extensive third-degree burns will have to spend time in a hospital to recover. There were 40,000 hospitalizations related to burn injuries in the United States in 2015, according to the American Burn Association. Doctors will work to help patients prevent infection – a common complication of third-degree burns – promote healing, regain mobility, and minimize disability.

Treatment depends upon the extent of the damage and the amount of the body affected by the burn. Treatment for many third-degree burns includes the following:

  • Thorough cleaning and debriding
  • Pain medications
  • Antibiotics
  • IV fluids
  • Keeping the patient in a warm, humid environment
  • Skin grafting
  • Reconstructive surgeries

Additionally, most burn injuries of this severity require long-term care, including future surgeries and physical therapy. Some patients may also require breathing support.

What are some other considerations for third-degree burn injuries?

Third-degree burns will greatly affect victims’ lives. Patients may not experience pain because of the destruction of nerve endings common with third-degree burns. But they will require extensive medical care and may even need a caretaker to help with daily activities for some time. Scarring and disfigurement are a huge issue patients have to contend with, too.

So beyond the extensive medical bills and missed time from work while recovering, a third-degree burn has far-reaching effects.  A third-degree burn may affect a patient’s career, family life, self-esteem and body image, and general sense of well-being. Some burn victims experience psychological distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders.

Victims of burn accidents have options to get the compensation they need. While some injuries are the result of a victim’s own carelessness – leaving a towel too close to an open flame on the stove, misusing caustic chemicals, etc. – others are not.

Some third-degree burns stem from product malfunctions causing severe electrical shock. Some are the result of another’s careless misplacement of a flammable object that catches fire. Some are the result of a coworker spilling scalding hot water.

In cases like these, victims may be able to file a claim or lawsuit to get compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. We can help. Our lawyer referral specialists can help you find a lawyer in your area who can help file a claim and recover compensation. Call us at 844-549-8774.