Burns: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Complications, Diagnosis, Treatment, Treatment and Outlook

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A man who takes care of another man and spill water on his hand because he burned.

1Overview

Burns are skin injuries that mostly happens in the household, children and elderly’s are commonly the victims. According to the World health organization 265, 000 deaths happen every year due to house burnings, especially to the middle and low-income countries.
In some cases, it is one of the primary cause of disability. Females usually are at risk to burns due to the reason that they are the ones who are cooking at the household, they may have contact with flames when cooking.

There are three classifications of burns. The first-degree burn, second-degree burn and lastly the third-degree burn.

The First-degree burn only affects the outer layer of the skin which is the epidermis, first degree burns are also known as the “superficial burns” and they are not as serious as the other classifications an example of this burn is the sunburn.

The second-degree also known as “partial thickness” burn extends to the dermis. If the patient has a second-degree burn most likely he will feel pain because most of the blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles and sweat glands are found in this area of the skin causing it to be more serious if the burn reaches this part.

And lastly the third-degree burn or “Full thickness burn” is the most serious classification out of the three. The epidermis and dermis at this point are now damaged or destroyed making the patient feel numb. , but it will not only stop there because the damage may also go to the muscle area and bones.

There is also the fourth-degree burn, it is somewhat the same with the third-degree burn but the burn extends to the joints and tendons of the patient’s body.

2Types of Burns

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns happen if a patient comes into contact with hot surfaces or things that is hot. An example of this is the cooking pans found in houses.

Chemical Burns

These burns are caused by strong chemicals that can or may cause harm to the human. Some of this chemicals are acids, detergents, chlorine, bleach and other solvents.

Radiation Burns

Radiation Burns usually happens when a person stays longer than usual under the sun. Some often have radiation burns coming from too much exposure to x-rays.

Electrical Burns

This burn happens if the patient touches electric current. Most victims of this burns are children, especially if the child put an electric wire to their mouth.

Friction Burns

This burn happens if a person comes into contact repeatedly with an object.  Scrapes can also be classified as a first-degree friction burn.

3Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of burns depend on the degree of burns that a patient has. It is up to the doctor to assess the wound or the burned are that the patient has.

First Degree Burns

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness

Second Degree Burns

  • Thick Skin
  • Blisters
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Red, white and splotchy skin or sometimes pink
  • Moist
  • Soft

Third Degree Burn

  • White or Black
  • Waxy or leathery

4Causes

There are many causes of burns that a patient may have like some of this are:

  • Flames that are neglected– children sometimes get curious about things that are new to them. And parents have a lot of things to do that they forget to look after their children. And this child will touch the flames causing them to get burnt.
  • Improper or faulty wirings – People tends to forget checking the wires in their houses. Damaged wires may cause electrical burns to humans or worse fire to the house.
  • Ultraviolet rays– During summer a lot of people plans to go unwind and have trips to any beaches they wish to go. But too much sun exposure may cause sunburns.

5Complications

Infections

Skins are known to be the protective layer of the body, if the skin is damage there is a possibility for bacteria to come into the body. In checking for infection the doctor may check the color of the wound. Any changes in the color of the burned area may be caused by infection.

Scarring

Scar tissue may occur during the healing period of the patient. Some patients do create large scars like keloids. There are some ointments that can help patients to overcome such complications.

Hypovolemia

Due to burns patients tends to lose blood due to the damage of blood vessels because of this the heart cannot function well resulting for it to pump not enough blood to go around the body.

Hypothermia

Skin helps in keeping the body temperature normal. If the skin is damage there would be a possibility to lose heat, especially if there would be a large skin that is damage resulting it to have a low body temperature.

6Diagnosis

As the patient goes to a hospital or to have the first aid he or she must be checked and evaluated first by a professional healthcare provider, for them to know what and how to treat the patient properly. In checking for the severity of the wound the doctors would use the rule of nines as a method.

The arm is considered 9% each it is the same with the head and neck area, the leg, back and torso consist of 18% each as well and the genital area consist of 1%.  Some doctors tend to let the patient go into x-ray or any lab tests to know if the wound already affected the patient’s body.

7Treatment

After evaluating the wound the doctor would now treat the patients wound.

First-degree burns treatment can be done at home for it is a serious case, some of the treatments may be done at home like:

  • Putting the wound into a cold running water or put a cold compress.
  • Putting gauze is done to reduce any irritation or discomfort coming from the patient, but as recommended the wound should be put to air to let it be dry and heal faster.
  • Patients must take in medicines like the pain reliever, to reduce the pain that the patient is feeling.
  • Oils, butter, and other home remedies should not be put into the wound to avoid any infections.
  • Cloths with fibers like cotton buds and cotton must not be put into the wound to avoid small particles into sticking and having an infection.

Second Degree Burns can be treated like the first-degree burn.

  • Wounds must be washed carefully with cold water and with a saline solution.
  • If the burn has any blisters the patient must go straight to the doctor to know the right treatment that must be done.
  • Take in pain relievers to reduce pain.
  • Apply ointments if prescribed by the doctor for the blisters.
  • Elevate the area where the wound is from the patient’s heart.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if the burned area is at the mouth, eyes, or nose.

Third Degree Burns is a serious case that may call for serious treatments and actions.

  • If ever a patient has been on fire immediately call for medical assistance.
  • Check if the patient is still breathing and has access to air to come into his body.
  • Elevate the area where the part is burned above the heart.
  • Doctors will remove dead skin or burned skins while cleaning the wound.
  • Patients would be given pain relievers to reduce pain.
  • A tetanus shot would be given to the patient.
  • IV fluids would be given to reduce patient from dehydrating.

8Prevention

  • Regularly check the wirings of appliances.
  • Have a smoke detector in case of emergencies.
  • Help children to be aware of fires and burns.
  • Prohibit people from smoking inside the homes or buildings.
  • Use protective clothes and gears when using chemicals and doing any jobs that involve electricity.
  • Keep hot objects away from children.
  • Use sunblock when going on vacations.
  • Avoid using candles during electrical problems, instead, use flashlights.
  • Do not leave your cooking sections or area.
  • Avoid playing fires.

9Outlook

  • Scars are one of the things that are expected of a patient who encountered burns.
    There are types of burns that a patient might have after having burns like contracture scars, hypertrophic scars and keloid scars.
  • First degree burns can be healed at around 3-7 days, Second degree burns may usually take two to three weeks of healing due to the reason that two layers of the skin have been damaged, and lastly the healing time of third-degree may take months or even years to be healed and may need skin grafts to minimize the patients scar.
  • Surgeries such as plastic surgery would happen if the patient has burned on his face and is willing to undergo such surgeries.
  • Physical therapy would be applied to patients who have damaged joints in their body.
  • Burns may not only affect the physical features of a patient but also their emotions as well. Some doctors recommend groups that may help a patient to cope up.