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Burn Injuries and Their Severity Levels

As defined by the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences, a burn is damage to the skin’s tissue caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, or nuclear radiation or UV rays.


The severity of a burn is determined by how deep a burn is, or how many layers of the skin were affected, and the size of the damage.


The severity of these burns ranges from case to case. Burns can be classified as first-, second-, or third-degree burns.


To better understand how burns range in severity, it’s important to first understand each layer of skin and how a burn can effect those layers.


Layers of Skin

There are three layers to the skin. The epidermis is the top layer of skin. The middle layer is called the dermis. The hypodermis is the third and deepest layer of skin.



The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin. The epidermis contains melanin, which blocks out harmful UV rays and determines the color of our skin.


The main role of the epidermis is to protect the body from harm. It is also responsible for keeping your body hydrated and producing new skin cells.



The dermis or corium is the thick layer of skin under the epidermis that contains the nerve endings, blood capillaries, sweat glands, and hair follicles. The dermis contains two layers, called the papillary (top layer) and reticular (bottom layer).


The dermis’s main function is to support and protect the epidermis. It is also responsible for producing oil and swear, regulating body temperature, growing hair, distributing blood, and aiding in sensation.



The hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue is the layer right before the muscle in the body.


The hypodermis’s primary purpose is to insulate the body, store energy, and connect your skin to your muscles and bones.


Levels of Burns

There are three levels of burn severities: first-, second, and third-degree.



A burn injury that is classified as a first-degree burn is considered one that only harms the epidermis.



When a second-degree burn occurs, it has caused harm to the epidermis and the dermis.



A burn that has injured all three layers of skin, down to the hypodermis, is considered a third-degree burn.


If you’ve been a victim of a burn injury in a case where another party is responsible and you are looking to file a lawsuit, before you do,  consider hiring a burn injury lawyer.