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What are complications of burns?

Deep or widespread burns can lead to many complications, including:
  • Infection. Burns can leave skin vulnerable to bacterial infection and increase your risk of sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening infection that travels through the bloodstream and affects your whole body. It progresses rapidly and can cause shock and organ failure.
  • Low blood volume. Burns can damage blood vessels and cause fluid loss. This may result in low blood volume. Severe blood and fluid loss prevents the heart from pumping enough blood to the body.
  • Dangerously low body temperature. The skin helps control the body's temperature, so when a large portion of the skin is injured, you lose body heat. This increases your risk of a dangerously low body temperature called hypothermia. Hypothermia is a condition in which the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat.
  • Breathing problems. Breathing hot air or smoke can burn airways and cause breathing difficulties. Smoke inhalation damages the lungs and can cause respiratory failure.
  • Scarring. Burns can cause scars and ridged areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue (keloids).
  • Bone and joint problems. Deep burns can limit movement of the bones and joints. Scar tissue can form and cause shortening and tightening of skin, muscles or tendons. This condition may permanently pull joints out of position.

Continue Learning about 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 t...

he 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.
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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.