eli5: Do we actually start to get cooked when we get third degree burns?

34 views

No cannibalism intended lol. Completely out of curiosity.

In: 41

Kind of, but not really. A sunburn is from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which damages and kills cells. While some of the damage is from heat, and the affected area feels hot, it’s not a heat based effect but rather its about UV rays. UV photons are more powerful than photons in the visbale spectrum, and have so much energy they can cause your DNA to break. Sometimes, this damage is so severe that the cells commit suicide by triggering a process called apoptosis. This is to prevent the damage from turning into cancer, and unfortunately isn’t always successful.

Cooking meats, on the other hand, is about heat causing a denaturing and coagulation of proteins in the meat. Your stove doesn’t emit any UV rays, so the type of damage is different.

There is only a certain treshold of heat our cells/enzymes can take until they fall apart. That happens both to your skin and flesh when you get burnt and to the steak that’s on the grill for too long. The word “cooking” just refers to a heating process that doesn’t actually destroy the cells so I would say no, when you get burnt you get burnt, not cooked (well, maybe for a short time).

>No cannibalism intended lol. Completely out of curiosity.

You have been cooked the moment you suffer **any** degree of burns. The fact that you got burned means that parts of your body got hot enough to have components change irreversibly/have their proteins denature – to have been *cooked*.

The “degree” of the burn only serves to measure the severity by giving a scope of how *much* of you got cooked.

Indeed we do get cooked by any burn that damages our cells. Heck, even a good sun burn will cook you a little bit.

Superficial (1st degree): steamed
Partial (2nd degree): rare
Full thickness (3rd degree): medium well
Complete (4th degree): overdone

The degree of a burn is about how deep the damage goes. A first degree burn only damages the outer layer of the skin, a second degree burn damages the outer layer and inner layer, and a third degree burn damages or destroys the outer and inner layers, and tissue lower down such as muscle and nerve connections. The classification is useful for determining treatment. You can read a bit more about this here: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/skin-hair-and-nails/burns/stages.html

Typically when you cook meat, you heat skin and muscle (steak, bacon, spare-ribs, chicken wings etc). So from that view a burn does partially cook you.