Search for your doctor or find doctors accepting new patients.
Find out about our hospital visiting hours and policies.
Log In to MyUCSDChart to access your medical information
Find out about our academic nursing program.
Skin is the largest organ of the body. The average adult has 18 square feet of skin which accounts for 16 percent of the total body weight.
Lacerations, abrasions or burns alter the skin's ability to protect and buffer you from your surroundings.
The depth of a burn injury depends on the temperature of the burning substance, the duration of contact, and the skin depth in the area burned.
A first degree burn is damage is to the first layer of skin (epidermis). It is pink, red, dry and painful. An example of first degree burn is sunburn. If the burn is kept clean it will usually heal over a week or two. Some peeling will occur and there is no scarring.
Second Degree Burns
A second degree burn is deeper. This burn may occur from a scald, hot grease or contact with a hot substance such as a curling iron. There is damage to the epidermis (top layer) and some damage to the second layer of skin (dermis). There are blisters which may be broken or intact. Skin under the blisters is weepy, pink and painful.
Second degree burns are divided into two categories based upon the depth of the burn. There is a superficial second degree burn and a deep second degree burn.
Superficial second degree burns typically heal with conservative care (no surgery) in one to three weeks. Topical medications are placed on the burn wound. Daily or twice daily wound changes are the norm. New epidermis grows in one to three weeks.
Deep second degree burns (or partial thickness burns) appears more pale than red. The skin is drier and the sensation of that skin tends to be diminished. Sometimes these burns will need operative grafting for repair. Often this decision cannot be made in the first few days and a short course of conservative treatment (topical medications) will be tried.
In a third degree burn, all layers of the skin are destroyed. Blisters may be present and color of the skin varies (red, pale pink, white and tan). These burns require skin grafting.
Official Web Site of the University of California, San Diego.