There are several ways of categorizing burn injuries. One way is by the severity. A superficial burn, sometimes called a first-degree burn, is relatively mild. The most severe burn injuries are full-thickness, or third-degree, burns.
Another way of categorizing burns is by what caused them. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, burn injuries have several possible causes.
1. Thermal burns
Thermal burns come from increasing the temperature of the skin to a dangerous level due to exposure to a source of heat. A thermal burn is the most common type of burn injury, but it can result from different sources of heat. For example, a scald is a thermal burn that occurs because of contact with hot water or steam. Contact with open flames or hot metals can also cause thermal burns.
2. Electrical burns
When an electrical circuit flows through the body, it can burn the skin. This is true whether the injury involved direct current or alternating current.
3. Radiation burns
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause a burn injury to the skin. Sunburn is a type of radiation burn that results when the skin absorbs too many ultraviolet rays from the sun. There are other sources of radiation that can cause burn injuries. For example, X-rays help diagnose injuries and illnesses with medical imaging, but overexposure could cause burn injuries.
4. Chemical burns
Exposure to strong chemicals can cause burn injuries. Both alkaline and acidic chemicals can burn the skin if they are strong enough.
Some burns may be more likely in some settings than others. For example, chemical burns may be more likely to result from an industrial accident involving solvents or detergents, while thermal burns may be more likely to happen in the home.