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What is a third-degree burn?

The third-degree burn is a full-thickness burn that damages all layers of the skin and even causes injury to the underlying tissue. With a third-degree burn, the fat surrounding the skin is also involved. Sometimes the adjacent muscle and bone are affected.

The third-degree burn will appear very dry and may look white, black or a leathery brown.

This severe burn may be a painless burn as the injury destroys nerve tissue.

A third-degree burn can result in swelling and blisters. In some cases, a third-degree burn can cause the person to go into shock and even cause death.

Antimicrobial ointments are used on the third-degree burn to prevent infection. Doctors may use skin grafts or synthetic grafts to cover the burned tissue and cosmetic surgery may be necessary after time.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

A third-degree burn is the most serious kind, since it penetrates deepest and damages all layers of the skin as well as underlying tissues. Burns can be caused by heat, sunlight, chemicals, electricity, or nuclear radiation. Third-degree burns usually cause little or no pain, since they destroy nerves. Skin appears charred or white. Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention.

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

A third-degree burn is full thickness skin burn that include the epidermis and full dermis. These burns are the most serious and may require surgical debridement followed by skin grafting. Facial burns may require full thickness grafts to match the existing skin around the perioral and and periorbital regions. Split thickness skin grafts may be used on the extremities or truncal regions. Large total body surface area burns can lead to severe bacteremia or sepsis and multiorgan failure that may be fatal if untreated.

Third-degree burns are also referred to as full thickness burns are the worst burns and cause the most damage, extending through every layer of skin. Third degree burns can impact the bloodstream, major organs and even bones. Individuals who have experienced a third-degree burn may not feel pain due to damage to nerve damage. These burns appear tan, brown or black in color and are typically dry. Wound debridement, skin grafting or other surgical procedures may be used to help a third degree burn heal.

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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.