# Do people burn/scald at the same temperature?

Here is a semi-regular scenario at the bernse household.

Lets say Mrs. Bernse and I are going to take a bath together. The tub gets full, I slip in and go “Ahhh… just right”. She puts her foot in, screeches and quickly pulls it out as it is way to hot for here.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying the soak in the hot water and her foot is still hurting and now kind of red in color.

Question: Would my skin actually burn or scald at the same temperature as hers would or do I have a little bit more of a buffer?

There is some variation between kids and adults. See this Scald guide for details.

Please note that scald injuries with 2nd degree burns can occur as low as 115 degrees with lenghty exposure. Some have argued on this board in the past that nothing under the temperature of boiling water (212 degrees F) can do tissue damage. This is just plain wrong.

The link also shows that 3rd degree injuries occur in about 1 second at 160F, 5 seconds at 140F, 9 minutes at 120, 6.7 hours at 110.

As for an individual’s tendency to scald, it would probably depend on thickness of skin, and the degree of callus or dead unshed skin on the surface. But by and large, the temperatures are probably fairly similar for most adults. However, elderly with thinner skin (and hence less insulating dead skin), or others with thinner skin would burn quicker.

I was in a steam room a few months ago that was at 55C for about 1/2 hour. Should that have scalded me? Or, do you have to be immersed in the liquid for that to happen?

It’s the direct contact with the liquid that causes the burn to occur rapidly. Liquid is a much, much better conductor of heat that gas.

OK. Thanks for the explanation.

So, from what I understand, its just a pain threshold more than anything. We would both actually “burn” at virtually the same temperature as each other, correct?

I’ll give that a definite “probably”, bernse. Not being able to examine the two of you, and assess the skin myself, I won’t guarantee anything.

How’s that for a hedge?

BTW, the hedge is the official shrubbery of the Radiologist! I once saw an x-ray report which read: Appears normal, cannot rule out abnormal. Suggest clinical correlation.

You won’t guarantee anything or make a diagnosis via an internet message board conversation? And you call yourself an MD? Pffft. I rolly-eyes in your general direction. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Thanks!