Types of Burns and Treatment Options

Burn wounds are painful injuries caused by thermal, electrical, chemical or electromagnetic energy. A burn wound is usually classified depending on the severity of the wound, and how deeply it has penetrated into the skin’s surface. 

Burns and Treatment

The different degrees of burns are:


These are superficial burns and affect only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis. The burnt area could be red and painful, but there are usually no blisters. Sunburn is an example of a mild burn and may cause just an increase or decrease in the skin color of the feet.


Treatment for any kind of burn, even if it is only a sunburn, should be immediate. Topical soothing lotions should suffice for a mild sunburn. If it is severe, an antibiotic ointment and pain medication may be given to ease symptoms.


These burns involve the epidermis but would have also penetrated a little deeper into the dermis. The wound site could be red and blistered, as well as swollen and painful.


If the burn is small and not too severe, a topical antibiotic cream should suffice. If the burn is very severe or covers a large part of the feet, it is wise to consult with a doctor.


These burns destroy the epidermis and dermis as well as the subcutaneous tissue. The area could look white or could appear blackened, and could smell and look charred.



This kind of burn needs immediate medical attention. Cleaning and debriding will be done in the burned area. Intravenous fluids containing electrolytes will be given, and antibiotic creams applied. Oral antibiotics may be started to prevent infection. Medications for pain and inflammation will be needed. In severe cases, skin grafting may be required to achieve closure of the wounded area.


These burns rip right through the dermis, epidermis, subcutaneous tissue and into the deeper tissues and may affect nerves, muscle and bone. On the feet, there is very little subcutaneous tissue, so even a third-degree burn could affect muscle and bone. 


People with fourth-degree burns need to be rushed to the hospital for intensive care burns treatment. They will need constant monitoring. Functional and cosmetic reconstruction surgery and skin grafting may be necessary to bring back foot function.


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