Burn Pictures

Pictures of Burns from Medical Authorities and Submitted by Readers

1
First Degree Sunburn

sunburn
A Clear Boundary Between Sunburn and Unburned. (c) Melanie Martinez

Everybody knows there are first, second, and third-degree burns, but not everyone knows how to identify severe burns. It's not difficult to differentiate burns if you know what to look for.

These burn pictures illustrate how a deep burn looks compared to a shallow burn. Many of these pictures are submitted by readers. Submit your own burn picture here.

The clear line between the burned skin and the natural, unburned skin shows how red skin gets. This is a good example of a first-degree sunburn. Sunburns can certainly become second-degree burns, too.

The differences between burn degrees has to do with the depth of the burn. How much of the thickness of the skin was burned? If only the surface of the skin, the top layer, was burned, we call that a first degree. First degree burns like this one are red, irritated and dry. They don't blister. Blistering indicates the burn got deep enough to injure the second layer of skin. When that happens, the skin layers start to separate, which leads to blistering.

If you have a picture of your own burns or injuries, submit your injury pictures here.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

2
Second Degree Electrical Burn

electrical burn on hand
Electrical Burns Often Tell a Tale. Image courtesy of NIOSH

This second-degree electrical burn is unique. In order to be burned by electricity, the victim has to be touching a source of electricity and complete the electrical circuit by being grounded or touching another source of electricity. In other words, you have to have at least two points of contact.

Most electrical burns are actually thermal (heat) burns from arcs -- the blinding white sparks that jump across wires. Arcs generate heat at thousands of degrees Fahrenheit and burn instantly.

This electrical burn has a blister, which makes it a second-degree burn. Blisters indicate the burn is deep enough to penetrate all the way through the top layer of skin down into the second layer. When that happens, the two layers separate, making a blister.

If you have a picture of your own burns or injuries, submit your injury pictures here.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

3
Bow Tied Sunburn

sunburn
A First Degree Sunburn. (c) Heather Brouhard

This sunbather obviously spent too much time on the beach. Her bathing suit bow is clearly visible and shows her natural coloring. Despite being such a severe burn, the absence of blisters indicates this hasn't yet progressed to a second-degree burn.

Burns can deepen even once the source of the burn has been removed. In other words, take the steaks off the grill a little early, because they'll keep cooking. Sunburns aren't any different, so even though you thought you got out of the sun fast enough, blisters could still develop.

If you have a picture of your own burns or injuries, submit your injury pictures here.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

4
Road Rash

road rash
Abrasions are Just Friction Burns by Another Name. (c) flickr user pinkpucca

While technically an abrasion, road rash is an example of friction burn. This one is pretty severe, but you can get friction burns from all sorts of things. We've all heard of rug burn and rope burn.

I learned to snow ski on a bunny hill with a rope tow. It was old school, where you had to hold on to the rope without any loops or handles. I went home with a ruined glove and a rope burn on my right palm that didn't heal for weeks.

Since burns are essentially just damage to the layers of skin, road rash treatment and burn treatment are very similar.

If you have a picture of your own burns or injuries, submit your injury pictures here.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

5
Second Degree Burn from Glue

Second degree burn on hand
Industrial Glue on the Hand Leaves Second Degree Burn. (c) Tim Ballantine

This victim let the industrial glue get on his hand long enough to cause some second-degree burns. The burns are classified as a second degree because of the red, raw appearance.

Second-degree burns can develop over time if not treated promptly. The trick is to stop the burning process as soon as possible with cool running water. Flush the area with water for 20 minutes to return the tissues to their normal temperature.

Remember, tissue continues to burn even after the heat source is gone, which is why you're supposed to take the steaks off the grill a little early and let them rest. If you want the skin to stop burning, you'll have to actively cool it down.

If you have a picture of your own burns or injuries, submit your injury pictures here.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

6
Deep Second Degree Burn

Deep second degree burn on arm
When the Oven Fights Back. (c) Kathryn Harper

Figuring out the degree of a burn depends on which degree you're trying to determine. It's easy to identify a first-degree burn: The skin is red. It's easy to identify a shallow second-degree burn: Blisters develop.

Third-degree burns are much more difficult. Often, it takes a professional burn unit to really make the call.

In this case, when an oven door sprang back up before this victim was ready, it burnt her arm pretty severely. The burn is almost crusty in this picture, which means it's pretty deep. However, in order for a burn to be considered third degree, it must be full thickness, meaning the damage has to have completely destroyed the thick layer of skin and reached the fatty tissue underneath.

There's just no way to tell that outside of a hospital. In fact, the emergency department is not likely to make that determination, either. What's more important from a practical standpoint is whether the skin is intact. Once the burn gets deep enough to blister -- or worse, the top layer of skin starts falling off -- it allows bacteria to enter and fluid to leak out.

If you have a picture of your own burns or injuries, submit your injury pictures here.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

7
Severe Hand Burn

Second degree burn on hand
Swelling Around a Hand or Foot can Make a Burned Limb Useless. (c) Janell Petroff

A swollen burn can put pressure on nerve cells and restrict blood flow in parts of the body that aren't even involved in the burned area. When burns go all the way around an arm or a leg, it can result in what's known as compartment syndrome.

In the worst case scenario, compartment syndrome can lead to dying tissue. Unfortunately, that is a process that perpetuates itself, because the dying tissue gives off toxins that poison the areas around it, increasing the overall damage. The process can go on long enough to kill the victim.

I cringe when I see a burn like this one. The swelling in the hand and the severity of the burn make me nervous about the prospects for a good outcome. In this case, the victim did fine and treatment was successful.

When emergency healthcare providers determine the severity of a burn, they look for several factors. One trigger to call a burn severe is if it reaches all the way around an arm or a leg. Another is if the burn involves the hands or feet. We worry that swelling could lead to an amputation.

If you have a picture of your own burns or injuries, submit your injury pictures here.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

8
Third Degree Burn on Finger

Third degree burn on finger
An Evil Marshmallow Attacks from a Cup of Extra Hot Chocolate. (c) Edward Russell

Even something as benign as a marshmallow can do serious damage. In this case, extra hot chocolate melted a marshmallow and got it hot enough to burn the skin all the way through, causing third-degree burns.

The victim says this picture was taken a few days after the burn happened, during the bandaging process at the doctor's office.

Have your own burn pictures? Submit your injury pictures here.

9
Heating Pad Burn

burn from a heating pad
Why You Don't Sleep with a Heating Pad. (c) Francisco de La Roxa

About.com First Aid reader Francisco de La Roxa submitted this picture of what looks like a second-degree burn on his arm.

He says he fell asleep with a heating pad on his arm and this is what he woke to. I'm not sure why he was sleeping with a heating pad in the first place. The arm looks bruised, and that would not be a typical color for a burn. I'm wondering if he was sleeping with a heating pad on his arm because it was bruised.

Usually, bruising is treated with cold rather than heat. Some docs say you can use either, but the rule of thumb for most healthcare providers is to use cold to decrease swelling and bruising shortly after an injury (RICE). Heat can be used in a day or two to promote healing.

Either way, ‚Äčthere's only one solid rule: don't leave ice or heat sitting on the injury too long. With too much time, heat may cause a burn like this one. Ice, on the other hand, can cause frostbite if left on an injury too long.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

10
Scalding Burn from Pressure Washer

second degree scalding burn
Second Degree Burn from the Scalding Hot Water of a Pressure Washer. (c) johnnyr99

A scald is simply a burn caused by contact with hot liquid. In this case, the liquid was also moving very fast.

About.com First Aid reader johnnyr99 submitted this image of a scald from a hot pressure washer. The combination of steaming hot water and high pressure probably meant this injury took just an instant to happen.

According to johnnyr99, this injury happened in the only area of the leg not covered by shoes, pants or socks. I suppose having any of those layers covering this bare skin might have been helpful, but simple contact with hot water is enough to cause the scalding.

This wound is a good example of a second-degree burn.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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