What Is a Fourth-Degree Burn?

November 4, 2022 Burn Injury

Burns are some of the most intense injuries that a person can experience. Severe pain, scarring, and even nerve damage can occur after a burn. To determine the best course of treatment for each patient, doctors classify burns into one of four categories: first, second, third, or fourth-degree burns.

Fourth-degree burns are the most severe type. This injury extends through all of the layers of skin, harming the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even bone. Fourth-degree burns always require emergency medical care and may even be life-threatening, making it necessary to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Fourth-Degree Burns

Doctors classify burns based on the damage that they inflict on the human body. A fourth-degree burn damages the skin, tendons, nerves, and possibly the muscles. This injury may cause permanent damage to the burned area, sometimes necessitating an amputation. 

The skin surrounding fourth-degree burns may look black and charred, and you may even see exposed bone. When a fourth-degree burn happens, this charred-looking appearance may be the first thing you notice. In some cases, the area is white.  

Unlike other types of burns, fourth-degree burns are not usually painful. This is due to nerve damage; the nerves in this area are responsible for sending pain signals to your brain. When these nerves are destroyed, you are not able to feel this pain—which can be extremely serious. 

What Can Cause a Fourth-Degree Burn?

Many factors can lead to a fourth-degree burn. Usually, open flames and harmful chemicals are the cause. In many cases, the negligence of another person—such as a motor vehicle driver or property owner—is to blame.

Below are some of the most common causes of fourth-degree burns:

  • Hot irons
  • Fireplaces
  • Campfires
  • Fires started by car accidents
  • Hot irons, stoves, and ovens
  • Flames from a building fire
  • Corrosive chemicals

How Do You Treat Fourth-Degree Burns?

Treatment for fourth-degree burns varies from patient to patient. If you have suffered this type of injury, it is critical to seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible. A doctor at the hospital’s burn unit will diagnose your condition and focus on stabilizing your injury.

First, your doctor will clean the burn and remove any dead tissue. Depending on the extent of the damage to your bones, nerves, and muscles, he or she may:

  • Prescribe pain medications
  • Administer a tetanus shot, if necessary
  • Administer intravenous fluids for hydration
  • Apply antibiotic ointments to prevent infection
  • Treat any complications, such as shock and organ damage

As your burn begins to heal, your doctor will explain your options for reconstructive surgery and physical therapy. You may obtain a skin graft if your body cannot regenerate this tissue on your own. You may also undergo rehabilitation to help regain your strength and feeling in the affected area.

Recovering Compensation for a Burn Injury in Nevada

Fourth-degree burns are extremely serious, and treatment can be lengthy and expensive. The impact of the injury can affect you for the rest of your life. If someone else’s actions are responsible for your burn injury, you deserve justice.

In Nevada, you have the right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the person or entity whose negligence caused your burn injury. A Nevada burn injury lawyer can help you navigate your claim and recover compensation to pay for medical care, pain and suffering, and more. Contact a motor vehicle accident attorney in Las Vegas as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options.