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How do burns affect the body?

Burns can affect the body by damaging the skin. When there’s a lot of damage, the skin can’t do its jobs properly. This means germs can get in, causing infections. If the burn is large and deep the body can lose water through the damaged skin, making the body dry. Body temperature may be harder to control, so the body can get too cold as heat is lost through the burned area.

Severe burns can cause metabolic stress. In this video, Alexander Majidian, MD, FACS, of the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, shares different ways that burns can affect your body.

A mild burn, like a first-degree burn, usually won't affect the body beyond the original wound, which should heal once the top layer of skin is shed. More serious burns, like second- and third-degree burns, however, can cause additional problems in the body, including dehydration, shock and chemical imbalances. Severe burns can also destroy muscle tissue and damage the kidneys. In some cases, eschars, which are crusted-over areas, can develop and stop blood flow or restrict breathing. Infections can also be a serious complication because the body's defense-its skin-is damaged.

Continue Learning about Burns

What does a superficial burn look like?
National Athletic Trainers' AssociationNational Athletic Trainers' Association
The skin is red and dry, and the burn may be painful. The area may also swell. (This answer provided...
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What are signs of an inhalation burn injury?
Challenge AmericaChallenge America
Inhalation injuries are difficult to detect unless the person alerts personnel that the injury has o...
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What is a superficial burn?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
"Superficial" refers only to the burn's depth of damage within the skin. Superficial burns are first...
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What are burns?
James FortenberryJames Fortenberry
Burns happen when the skin touches heat, chemicals or electricity. They are ranked by how deep they ...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.