Most Common Types

About 450,000 Americans receive medical treatment for burn injuries each year. Almost 70 percent of all burns happen at home, with the rest occurring primarily at the patient’s place of employment or in car accidents. Most common types of burn injuries are preventable, and increased awareness about fire safety can help patients put safety precautions in place to prevent future incidents. Burn injuries and deaths have been declining, but there is much that can be done to prevent the most common types of burns.

Most Common Types of Burns

The most common types of burns are caused by flames and scalding. The risk of these types of injuries is greatly increased by absence of smoke detectors and by using alcohol while working with flames or hot liquid. Most of the common burn injury types happen in the winter.

Flame or Fire

Approximately 44 percent of all burn patients are admitted for injuries from flames or fire. These types of injuries can be caused by improperly building an outdoor or indoor fire, complications with cooking, issues with fireworks, cigarettes that have been left unattended, or many other factors. Flames and fire pose a further threat to patients, as the smoke from flames or fire can cause breathing and respiratory problems.


About 33 percent of all burn injuries are caused by scalding. Scalding injuries are caused by hot liquid or steam coming in contact with the skin. This type of burn most commonly occurs during cooking or food preparation, but can be caused by heating water too high for bathing or when heating liquid for other purposes, such as scented oils. Scalds are the number one cause of childhood burn injuries. Children often overturn hot liquids in pans, bowls, and cups and are more likely to burn themselves on water from a faucet than adults.

Burns from Other Sources

Chemical burns, electrical burns, burns from contact with hot surfaces, and other types of burns make up the remaining 23 percent of burn injuries that occur per year. These types of injuries are less likely to happen at home than scalds and flame burns. Although sun burns fall into this category and are very common, sun burns rarely require medical treatment, as they are often first degree burns.

Risks Factors for Common Burn Types

Severe injury and even death can result from burns in some cases. Children under four and elderly patients are at higher risk for serious complications from burns because of lower immunity and inability to seek medical treatment promptly following burn injuries. Patients lacking transportation or living in rural areas are also at higher risk of burn complications because of timeliness of treatment.




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