What are fourth-degree burns?

A fourth-degree burn is a non-technical term that describes extreme burns that go all the way down to the muscle and bone. These burns are so severe that they can cause the skin to turn black. Technically, these burns are encompassed under the third-degree burn umbrella. However in some cases, people choose to segment these extremely serious and damaging burns into their own category.
Serious burns that go deep into the subcutaneous fat and tissues and also injure the muscle are called fourth-degree burns. For coding purposes, fourth-degree burns that end in major deep tissue injury and require amputation are called fifth-degree burns.
 Trying to determine if a major burn is third, fourth or fifth-degree is not always easy.  Oftentimes burns have parts that are superficial and other parts that are very deep.  Because the burn injury is not consistent, it makes it difficult to classify the entire wound.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.