Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Third-degree burns

Third-degree burns, also called full-thickness burns, injure all the layers of the skin as well as the fatty tissue beneath them. These are serious burns that can affect the skin's ability to grow back.

A third-degree burn may be less painful than a second-degree burn since the nerves are destroyed after a third-degree burn. Third-degree burns may look white, cherry red, or black, and they do not change color when you press on them (they do not blanch). Although blisters may develop, the burn is mostly dry, hard, and leathery-looking.

Common causes of third-degree burns are steam, hot oil, grease, chemicals, electrical currents, and hot liquids.

Infection is a major concern with third-degree burns. These burns always require care from a doctor. With small burns, the skin may heal by shrinking and forming a scar. Large burns may require skin grafts and surgery.

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