third degree burns

What is a third-degree burn?


A third-degree burn is also referred to as a full thickness burn. This type of burn destroys the outer layer of skin known as the epidermis and the entire layer beneath the dermis it can even damage the subcutaneous levels.

What causes a third-degree burn?

In most cases, full thickness or third-degree burns are caused by the a variety of reasons which can include:

  • A scalding liquid
  • Skin that comes in contact with a hot object for an extended period of time
  • Flames from a fire
  • An electrical source
  • A chemical source


What are the symptoms of a third-degree burn?

The following are the most common symptoms of a full thickness, third-degree burn, symptoms may include:

  • Dry and leathery skin
  • Black, white, brown, or yellow skin
  • Swelling
  • Lack of pain because nerve endings have been destroyed

Large, full thickness, third-degree burns heal slowly and poorly without medical attention. Because the epidermis and hair follicles are destroyed, new skin will not grow.

The symptoms of a third-degree burn may resemble other conditions or medical problems. A person who has been inflicted with 3rd degree burns may require to be transferred to a burn center for further treatment.

Treatment for third-degree burns

Treatment for full thickness, a person will need to be taken to the hospital immediately.  Once in hospital the burn severity is determined by the amount of body surface area that has been affected. Treatment for third-degree burns may include the following:

  • Early cleaning and debriding (removing dead skin and tissue from the burned area). This procedure can be done in a special bathtub in the hospital or as a surgical procedure.
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids containing electrolytes
  • Intravenous (IV) or oral antibiotics if your child develops an infection
  • Antibiotic ointments or creams
  • A warm, humid environment for the burn
  • Nutritional supplements and a high-protein diet
  • Pain medications
  • Skin grafting (may be required to achieve closure of the wounded area)
  • Functional and cosmetic reconstruction
  • Tetanus shot

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