Wound Classification

Wounds may be classified by several methods; their aetiology, location, type of injury or presenting symptoms, wound depth and tissue loss or clinical appearance of the wound. Separate grading tools exist for Pressure Ulcers (EPUAP), Burns (Rule of Nines), Diabetic Foot Ulcers (Wagner / San Antonio) and General Wounds1.

General wounds are classified as being1:

  • Superficial (loss of epidermis only)
  • Partial thickness (involve the epidermis and dermis)
  • Full thickness (involve the dermis, subcutaneous fat and sometimes bone)

The most common method for classification of a wound is identification of the predominant tissue types present at the wound bed; i.e. black – necrotic and the respective amount of each expressed as a percentage. This classification method is very visual, supports good assessment and planning and assists with continuous reassessment2.


  1. Flanagan, M. (1994) Assessment Criteria. Nursing Times: 90; 35, 76 – 86
  2. Flanagan, M. (1997) A practical framework for wound assessment 2: methods. British Journal of Nursing: 6; 6, 8 - 11

Caveat: The information given is a guide only and should not replace clinical judgement.

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