The Symptoms of Burns

What Are the Symptoms of Burns?

The symptoms of a burn are directly correlated to the degree of the burn, varying on how deep the skin damage is. In most cases, it will take at least a day or two before symptoms are present, and the degree of the burn can be determined.

First-Degree Burn Symptoms

First-Degree Burn - Sunburn on Woman's Back
  • Minor inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Minor to moderate pain
  • Dry skin
  • Redness on skin
  • Non-blistering skin

First-degree burn symptoms will remain mild and tend to subside after 2-3 days. In the case of a sunburn, you may experience peeling in addition to the symptoms listed above.

Second-Degree Burn Symptoms

Second-Degree Burn on Top of Hand
  • Skin that looks very deep red or deep brown
  • Severe soreness
  • Blistering
  • Development of scab-like tissue on the burned area
  • General thickening of the skin
  • Skin that is painful to the touch
  • White or discolored burn in an irregular pattern
  • Burned area appears to be wet or shiny

Second-degree burn symptoms often remain mild but can become intense, warranting a trip to the doctor. Although, scars will take longer to fully develop the other symptoms will subside within a few weeks.

Third-Degree Burn Symptoms

Third-Degree Burn Symptoms
  • Charred skin
  • Severe pain or little to no pain due to destroyed nerve endings
  • Leathery and raised skin texture
  • Blisters that do not develop
  • Waxy and white skin discoloration
  • Dark brown skin discoloration
  • Widespread thickness across the wounded area 

Third-degree burns heal slowly and symptoms may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to subside. Third-degree burns always require immediate treatment by a medical professional.

Fourth-Degree Burn Symptoms

Fourth-Degree Burn on Fingers
  • Charred skin
  • Exposed bone
  • Exposed muscle tissue
  • White skin discoloration
  • Little to no pain
  • Complete loss of feeling in the wounded area
  • Experiencing shock

Fourth-degree burn symptoms can take several months or even up to a year to subside. Fourth-degree burns always require immediate treatment by a medical professional and can be life-threatening if not treated properly.


Mayo Clinic

Healthline Media