Burns

Burns

Burns are classified according to the severity of the injury to the skin and underlying tissues. The three burn categories are first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree burns, with first-degree burns being the most minor. If the first and second layers of skin have been burned, you have a second-degree burn. Second-degree burns can sometimes be considered minor. For both first- and second-degree burns, apply cool running water to the area for at least 10 minutes. This will help reduce swelling. The most serious burns are third-degree burns. Not only are all the layers of skin burnt, but muscle, fat, bone, and other tissues are temporarily or permanently affected. A third-degree burn requires medical attention. Another serious burn that may need treatment is an electrical burn, like from a power cable. These types of burns may cause internal damage, even if the burn does not leave a mark on the skin.

Recently Answered

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    Unlike first-degree burns, which are generally minor, and third-degree burns, which are always serious, second-degree burns are a bit of a grey area. Some cases may be minor enough to be treated at home, but others can be more severe and require a doctor's care. Second-degree burns are named because they reach the second layer of skin, underneath the epidermis. In more minor cases, they may not extend much into the second layer and may not cause much damage. In serious cases, however, they may be deeper, more painful, and cause more damage. Regardless of what level your second-degree burn is at, you may want to see a doctor for treatment and care.

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    Burns are usually diagnosed by your doctor through history, symptoms, and a review of your skin. If you were burned as a result of certain substances, such as a fire, your physician might also see if the hot air or smoke caused any trauma to your lungs. Such diagnoses are usually done with a chest x-ray or using a tiny camera on a tube to look inside you. Large burns usually involve establishing how much of the body was burned.

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    Calculating the body's total surface area of a large burn is important because it helps doctors determine a burn's severity. For adults, doctors often use the rule of nines. (Children have separate charts because of growing body proportions.) The head and neck, as well as each arm, are considered 9 percent of the body. Each leg, the torso, and the back are considered twice that, or 18 percent of the body. Once more than 10 percent of the body is burned, a burn is classified as serious.

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    A , Health Education, answered
    How can you avoid burns during outdoor grilling?
    To avoid burns while grilling outdoors, make sure you protect your hands while cleaning the grill and any exposed surfaces, since it will still be quite hot. In this video, public health specialist Peter DeLucia, MPA, shares some burn safety tips. 
    See All 3 Answers
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered

    Start by checking the temperature on your water heater. Household tanks are usually set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), but even this temperature can cause a third?degree burn in mere seconds. If the temperature were higher, even by just 15 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius), you could get a major burn even faster. To prevent serious injury, consider lowering your tank's water temperature to 120 or 130 degrees Fahrenheit (50 to 55 degrees Celsius).

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    Prevention goes a long way toward ensuring you and your children do not suffer the effects of burns.

    Prevention measures include:
    • Never leave small children alone in the home
    • Install smoke alarms in furnace and sleeping areas, and check batteries monthly
    • Plan several escape routes from the house and conduct home fire drills
    • Do not smoke in bed
    • Keep matches and lighters away from children
    • Be sure your gas water heater is off the ground. Spilled flammable liquids will be ignited by the pilot light
    • Do not clean clothes with flammable liquids
    • Have your heating system checked and cleaned yearly
    • Check electric appliances and cords regularly for wear or loose connections • Place fire extinguishers around the home where the risk of fire is greatest - in the kitchen and furnace room, and near the fireplace
    • In case of fire, get everyone outside right away.
    • Call the fire department from a neighbor's house

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    Burns are caused by high temperature exposure to the body. If the body is touched by something over 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), a burn occurs. Burns can be the result of numerous materials, including fire, liquids, electrical currents, or chemicals. Even friction can cause burns.

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    Most illnesses shouldn't have any effect on minor burns. More serious burns, however, are very susceptible to infection. Somebody who is already fighting an infection or has an impaired immune system could be at a higher risk for complications with their burns, which can cause sickness or death.
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    Most illnesses shouldn't have any effect on minor electrical burns. More serious electrical burns, however, are very susceptible to infection. Somebody who is already fighting an infection or has an impaired immune system could be at a higher risk for complications with their electrical burn, which can cause sickness or death.
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    Third-degree burns:

    • Are the most harmful. The skin is completely burned.
    • Have a whitish or charred area.
    • Do not hurt when touched because the nerves in the skin have been destroyed.
    • May cause your child to need skin grafts or special care if the burn is larger than a half-dollar.

    Treatment:

    Your child’s doctor will talk with you about specific care for your child. Some general guidelines to follow include:

    • The doctor should see all third-degree burns, even small ones.
    • It is very important to return for a check-up or dressing change as your child’s doctor orders. Keep the dressing in place until your return visit.