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What is a Burn and How is it Treated?

Burn Treatment: Burn Treatment will depend on the extent and type of burn. A burn is damage to bodily tissue by various energy sources: thermal, chemical, radiation, and electrical. 500,000 Americans seek medical attention yearly for burns and they are classified based on the depth of tissue damage: 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree. Any tissue in the body can sustain a burn, even internal structures can suffer from this type of injury.

Identifying a Severe Burn - Kingwood Emergency Hospital

How are Burns Classified?

  • First-degree burns are mild but can still be painful. The top layer of skin (epidermis) turns red and usually doesn’t typically blister.
  • Second-degree burns affect skin’s top and lower layers (dermis). You may experience pain, redness, swelling and blistering.
  • Third-degree burns affect all three skin layers: epidermis, dermis and fat. The burn also destroys hair follicles and sweat glands. Because third-degree burns damage nerve endings, you probably won’t feel pain in the area of the burn itself, rather adjacent to it. Burned skin may be black, white or red.

How are Burns Treated?

  • First Degree: usually can be cared for at home by running cool water over the burn. Thermal burns can be treated with antibiotic cream and loosely applied gauze. Sunburns can be treated with Aloe-Vera safely. OTC pain killers are often helpful: Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen.
  • Second Degree: these types of burns should be examined by a doctor. They are treated in a similar fashion but your medical provider may want to use an antibiotic cream that contains silver, i.e. Silver Sulfadiazene and possible an oral antibiotic. Don’t rupture the blisters, let them resolve on their own.
  • Third-degree burns: Third-degree burns are serious and can be life-threatening. They often require hospitalization, specialized treatment, and skin grafts. Skin grafts replace damaged tissue and this can be accomplished with both animal or synthetic material. Treatment also includes extra fluids (usually given intravenously, with an IV) to keep blood pressure steady and prevent shock and dehydration.

What are the Complications of Third Degree Burns?

  • Heart rhythm disturbances
  • Dehydration.
  • Disfiguring scars and contractures.
  • Edema
  • Organ failure.
  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis.

How can I prevent a burn?

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and use sunblock.
  • Use a limiter on the hot water heater: keep it below 120 degrees
  • Keep watch of children when using appliances, fire, or hot water
  • Install and regularly test smoke detectors
  • Always test the water in a shower or bath before getting in or bathing a child
  • Cover loose or exposed wires

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