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Although many burn injuries are minor, from sunburn to accidentally touching a hot stove, some more serious burns can lead to life-threatening and/or life-altering damage. In 2015, the American Burn Association estimates that there were approximately 486,000 burn victims that required medical treatment, and about 40,000 of these injuries required hospitalization.

Though minor burns may only cause some pain and swelling, dangerous burn injuries can cause blistering, scarring, shock, and can even be fatal in some serious cases. Burns are not something to be taken lightly. Knowing what burn injuries are, how to prevent them, and what recovery from burns looks like is important to help you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.

If a person has sustained a burn injury due to the negligence of another, they may have a claim. In this case, a Winston-Salem catastrophic injury lawyer, particularly a Winston-Salem burn injury lawyer, can help a person understand their rights and can help them along the road to recovery.

Different Types

In a general sense, there are four types of burn injuries:

  • First-degree: Damage only to the outer layer of skin.
  • Second-degree: Damage to the outer layer of skin and the layer underneath.
  • Third-degree: Damage or destruction of the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath.
  • Fourth-degree: Damage extends through the skin to injure muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and/or bones.

A common example of a first-degree burn is sunburn, which causes redness, pain, and mild swelling. What distinguishes a second-degree burn from a first-degree burn is usually the presence of blisters, deeper reddening of the skin, a glossy appearance from leaking fluid, and/or possible loss of some skin.

Third- and fourth-degree burns always require medical treatment, as these are the types of burns that can cause the most severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms. These higher-level burns are often painless due to loss of multiple, if not all, skin layers.  It is important that you seek medical attention immediately if you suffer a burn that looks dry, leathery, or charred, with patches that appear white, brown, or black and then consult with a burn injury attorney in Winston-Salem to file a claim.


There are multiple measures a person can take to prevent burn injuries, many of which include avoiding dangerous activity that could lead to fires in their home. The CDC recommends installing smoke detectors on each floor of their home, practicing fire safety exits, and keeping emergency phone numbers in a close and safe location.

In a person’s office, they should become familiar with all building exits and ensure that they are unlocked and clear of debris. Also, they should make sure that their building has working smoke detectors.

If a person lives with children, they should teach them safety rules for matches, fires, electrical outlets, and other potentially flammable appliances. Do not leave hot food or liquids within the reach of children, or hold a child while smoking or drinking a hot liquid, as sudden movements could subject them to unexpected burns.


Milder burns, such as those that are first- and second-degree, must be treated as soon as possible. Start by running cool tap water over the burn for 10 to 20 minutes, but do not immediately use ice. Antibiotics can be used to help prevent infection. If symptoms such as pain and swelling persist unusually, medical treatment may be needed.

For more severe burns, it is important to seek medical assistance immediately. Treatment may be needed to clean the wound, and in some extreme cases, the skin may need to be replaced entirely. Third- and fourth-degree burns can also cause serious dehydration problems, something which needs to be monitored by a medical professional.