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Fourth Degree Burns

The medical community is still debating about the existence of fourth-degree burns or if it is just sufficient to have a three tired classification system. Fourth-degree is generally used when the injury is due to electrical burns and irreparable. Normally muscle tissue, tendons and bones are damaged permanently in fourth -degree burns. Bone and cartilage damage only are taken into account to define fourth-degree burns by some.


Hospitalization is very important for fourth-degree or transmural burns. Amputations of extremities or surgical interventions may be necessary during hospitalization. Fourth-degree burns may lead to death in some cases and hence the burn victim should be rushed to a medical treatment facility or a burn unit as soon as possible.

Fourth-degree burns are also considered as full thickness burns. Involving destruction of all the epidermal and dermal layers, fourth-degree burns can extend down to the subcutaneous tissue. Since the nerve endings have been destroyed, full thickness burns are not painful. With fourth-degree burns, the bone is burnt. Skin grafting is required in the case of third and fourth-degree burns.


When burns involve tissues like muscles or bones that underlie the skin, they are called fourth-degree burns. In addition to this fourth-degree burns are further classified into three additional degrees. If the skin is irretrievably lost, it is known as fourth-degree burn; when there is irretrievable loss to the muscles, it is called fifth-degree burn; and when the bone is charred, it is categorized as sixth-degree burn.


Ascertain whether the person is breathing or not, while you are waiting for the arrival of paramedics. If the person is not breathing, a gentle attempt of CPR will help. Since the person has lost large amount of water and there may be dehydration, if the person is able to drink and is breathing normally, you can administer little water. It will make them recover their body. It may not be easy for you to keep them comfortable, but if it is possible for you to keep them conscious till the arrival of assistance, their chances of survival will improve.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 16, 2017