Burn: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

A burn is damage to the skin or other body parts that is caused by extreme heat, flame, contact with heated objects, or chemicals. Medically, the depth of a burn is categorized as first, second, or third degree depending upon its severity.

Signs and symptoms of a burn depend upon the degree of severity. First-degree burns are similar to a sunburn and cause skin redness, peeling, mild to moderate pain, and tenderness. Blistering may occur. Second-degree burns have more severe symptoms and signs, including a greater degree of blistering and more intense pain. In third-degree burns, there is loss of color of the skin as it turns white. Loss of sensation is an associated symptom with third-degree burns.

Causes of burns

Exposure to the sun, radiation, heat, flames, or electrical or chemical contact can cause a burn.

Other burn symptoms and signs

  • Blisters
  • Leathery Look to the Skin
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Peeling Skin
  • Red Skin
  • Scarring
  • Splotchy Skin
  • Swelling
  • White Skin


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.