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What are the differences between first-, second- and third-degree burns?

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Quick Answer

The differences between first-, second- and third-degree burns are based on the severity of skin damage, according to Healthline. First-degree burns cause reddening of the skin, second-degree burns cause blisters and skin thickening, and third-degree burns cause skin to become white, leathery and very thick.

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Full Answer

First-degree burns affect the top layer of skin, notes Healthline, resulting in redness, minor swelling and pain. The skin dries and cracks as it heals. Second-degree burns affect additional skin layers and cause red, sore, blistered skin. Third-degree burns affect all the skin layers. Depending on the cause of the burn, the skin may appear charred, dark brown, white and waxy or raised and leathery. Because nerves may have been damaged, pain may be minimal.

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