When dealing with burns, it is important to understand how severe the injury itself is as this will determine how to treat it and what to expect during the healing process.
To this end, burn severity is divided into three primary categories: first, second and third degree burns.
Healthline breaks down the three distinct categories of burn injuries. First degree burns are the least severe and many people have suffered from them at least once in their lifetime, as this is the category of burn that sunburns usually fall under.
With first degree burns, the area will be red and somewhat painful to the touch. It may feel hot, too. After some time, the skin may peel in the area. However, it will not blister. This type of burn usually does not require additional treatment beyond pain relief.
With second degree burns, blisters will occur. Sunburns can cause second degree burn damage, but it is not typical. If a second degree burn is on the face or takes up more than 3 inches of space on the body, it is considered a severe burn. These burns should be seen by a doctor.
Third degree burns are the most severe. These burns can result in a white or black appearance to the skin and might not feel painful due to nerve damage. Such burns may require skin grafts and can leave extreme and noticeable scarring. These burns always require medical attention immediately and are considered severe no matter where they are located or how small they are.