A burn is damage to the skin and sometimes to the underlying tissues. Burns are categorized according to the depth and extent of the damage to the skin.
Also called a superficial burn, it only involves the top layer of skin. It is often caused by long exposure to ultraviolet light and slight flame contact. A first degree burn typically does not cause permanent scarring, but individuals may develop a red, painful patch on the affected area. It typically takes around 4-6 days to heal.
This type of burn involves all of the epidermis and part of the dermis. It is commonly referred to as a superficial partial-thickness burn and may be caused by a spill of a hot liquid on the skin (scalding) or a short exposure to a flame. A second degree burn typically causes skin blisters and usually takes a few weeks to heal.
A third degree burn extends into the deeper layers of the skin and tissues underneath. As a full-thickness burn, it most likely causes permanent scarring and tissue or bone damage. Often, victims of this type of burn will undergo surgery where skin grafts are used to repair the damaged area. A doctor will decide if hospitalization is necessary based on many factors. These include age, the cause of the burn, and the extent and depth of the burn.