A burn is a kind of injury to flesh caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, light, radiation or friction. Most burns affect only the skin. In severe cases, burns can cause damage to vital organs of the body.
Managing burn injuries properly is important because they are common, painful and can result in disfiguring and disabling scarring, amputation of affected parts or death in severe cases.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a burn? A burn is an injury to the skin or underlying tissues caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, or radiation.
What are the different types of burns? Burns are categorised into four main types: first-degree burns (superficial), second-degree burns (partial-thickness), third-degree burns (full-thickness), and fourth-degree burns (deep full-thickness).
How can burns be classified based on their severity? Burns are classified into three categories based on their severity: minor burns (first-degree burns and small second-degree burns), moderate burns (larger second-degree burns and some third-degree burns), and major burns (extensive third-degree burns and fourth-degree burns).
What are the common causes of burns? Burns can result from exposure to fire/flames, hot liquids or objects, steam, chemicals, electricity, and sunlight (UV radiation).
What should I do immediately after a burn occurs? For minor burns, cool the area with cool (not cold) running water for about 10-20 minutes. For severe burns, call emergency services and do not attempt to treat it yourself.
When should I seek medical attention for a burn? Seek medical attention for burns that cover a large area, are deep, involve the face, hands, feet, or genitals, or are caused by chemicals or electricity.
How can I relieve the pain from a burn at home? For minor burns, you can apply cool compresses, take over-the-counter pain medications (e.g., acetaminophen), or use aloe vera gel or an over-the-counter burn ointment.
Should I pop a blister that forms on a burn? No, you should not pop a blister that forms on a burn. It acts as a natural barrier against infection and aids in healing. Keep the blister clean and covered with a sterile dressing.
How can I prevent burns in the kitchen? To prevent kitchen burns, always use oven mitts or potholders when handling hot objects, and be cautious around hot surfaces and boiling liquids.
Are there any home remedies to treat burns? While home remedies like butter, toothpaste, or oil were once recommended, they can do more harm than good. Stick to cool water and sterile dressings for minor burns and seek medical help for severe burns.
How can I protect my skin from sunburn? Protect your skin from sunburn by wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen with a high SPF, seeking shade during peak hours, and wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses.
How long does it take for a burn to heal? The time for a burn to heal depends on its severity. First-degree burns typically heal within a week, while second-degree burns may take 2-3 weeks. Severe burns may require months of healing and may need medical interventions.
What are the complications associated with burns? Complications of burns can include infection, scarring, contractures (tightening of the skin), impaired joint movement, cosmetic issues, and psychological effects.
What is the rule of nines for estimating burn area? The rule of nines is a method used to estimate the percentage of body surface area affected by burns. It divides the body into regions representing approximately 9% or multiples of 9%.
Can burns cause inhalation injuries? Yes, burns involving the face, neck, or chest can lead to inhalation injuries if the person inhales hot air, smoke, or toxic gases. Inhalation injuries can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.
How can I prevent electrical burns? To prevent electrical burns, use caution when handling electrical devices, avoid overloading electrical outlets, and keep children away from electrical cords. Hire professionals for electrical work or repairs.
What should I do if a chemical burn occurs? If a chemical burn occurs, immediately flush the affected area with running water for at least 20 minutes while removing contaminated clothing. Seek medical help promptly.
Are there any long-term effects of burns? Yes, severe burns can have long-term effects such as scarring, restricted mobility, joint stiffness, emotional distress, and cosmetic concerns. Physical therapy and counselling may be needed.
Can burns be prevented? While not all burns can be prevented, many can. Taking precautions such as using safety equipment, practising proper fire safety, being cautious around hot objects, and following workplace safety guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of burns.