Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Estimating the Size of a Burn

Topic Overview

You can quickly estimate the size of a burn by using the "rule of nines." This method divides the body's surface area into percentages.

Estimating burn size in adults

See a picture of the "rule of nines" for adults.

  • The front and back of the head and neck equal 9% of the body's surface area.
  • The front and back of each arm and hand equal 9% of the body's surface area.
  • The chest equals 9% and the stomach equals 9% of the body's surface area.
  • The upper back equals 9% and the lower back equals 9% of the body's surface area.
  • The front and back of each leg and foot equal 18% of the body's surface area.
  • The groin area equals 1% of the body's surface area.

Estimating burn size in babies and young children

See a picture of the "rule of nines" for babies and young children.

  • The front and back of the head and neck are 21% of the body's surface area.
  • The front and back of each arm and hand are 10% of the body's surface area.
  • The chest and stomach are 13% of the body's surface area.
  • The back is 13% of the body's surface area.
  • The buttocks are 5% of the body's surface area.
  • The front and back of each leg and foot are 13.5% of the body's surface area.
  • The groin area is 1% of the body's surface area.

The "rule of palm" is another way to estimate the size of a burn. The palm of the person who is burned (not fingers or wrist area) is about 1% of the body. Use the person's palm to measure the body surface area burned.

It can be hard to estimate the size of a burn. If you think a burn is a certain size but you are unsure, it is best to discuss the size of the burn with your doctor.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: July 1, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine

Call us at (605) 336-0635

COVID-19 Updates from Urology Specialists

We understand the CDC guidelines have changed, however, there are still recommendations for healthcare facilities to mask up to protect patients and healthcare workers.

At this time, masks are required for everyone who enters our office.

Please continue to self-monitor and if you have symptoms consistent with Covid-19, please call our office in advance of your appointment.

Thank you for your continued partnership – we appreciate your part in keeping our community healthy!

Website logo