The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin and its derivatives (hair, nails, sweat and oil glands) make up the integumentary system. One of the main functions of the skin is protection. It protects the body from external factors such as bacteria, chemicals, and temperature.
Most skin burns are minor and can be managed at home. However, it is important to know the signs of a more serious skin burn, which should be evaluated and treated by a healthcare provider. Moderate to severe burns can cause a number of serious complications and usually require urgent treatment.
This article discusses skin burns caused by steam, hot water or other hot objects in the home, including which burns can be treated at home and those that require evaluation and treatment by a healthcare provider.
There are three levels of burns:
- First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin. They cause pain, redness, and swelling.
- Second-degree (partial thickness) burns affect both the outer and underlying layer of skin. They cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering.
- Third-degree (full thickness) burns extend into deeper tissues. They cause white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.
Overview & Considerations
Before giving first aid, evaluate how extensively burned the person is and try to determine the depth of the most serious part of the burn. Then treat the entire burn accordingly. If in doubt, treat it as a severe burn.
By giving immediate first aid before professional medical help arrives, you can help lessen the severity of the burn. Prompt medical attention to serious burns can help prevent scarring, disability, and deformity. Burns on the face, hands, feet, and genitals can be particularly serious.
Children under age 4 and adults over age 60 have a higher chance of complications and death from severe burns.
In case of a fire, you and the others there are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Anyone with symptoms of headache, numbness, weakness, or chest pain should be tested.
Burns can be caused by dry heat (like fire), wet heat (such as steam or hot liquids), radiation, friction, heated objects, the sun, electricity, or chemicals.
Thermal burns are the most common type. Thermal burns occur when hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, or flames come in contact with your skin. These are frequently the result of fires, automobile accidents, playing with matches, improperly stored gasoline, space heaters, and electrical malfunctions. Other causes include unsafe handling of firecrackers and kitchen accidents (such as a child climbing on top of a stove or grabbing a hot iron).
Burns to your airways can be caused by inhaling smoke, steam, superheated air, or toxic fumes, often in a poorly ventilated space.
Burns in children are sometimes traced to parental abuse.
First degree burns affect the outer layer of the skin, causing pain, redness, and swelling.
|First degree burns produce only reddening of the skin. Second degree burns produce blistering, as seen here.|
|Third-degree burns extend into deeper tissues, causing brown or blackened skin that may be numb.|
Mild, or first degree burns cause only reddening of the epidermis (outer layer of the skin), as seen in this photograph. Second degree burns cause blistering and extend into the dermis (lower layer of skin). Third degree burns cause tissue death through the dermis and affect underlying tissues.
FOR MINOR BURNS
- If the skin is unbroken, run cool water over the area of the burn or soak it in a cool water bath (not ice water). Keep the area submerged for at least 5 minutes. A clean, cold, wet towel will also help reduce pain.
3.After flushing or soaking, cover the burn with a dry, sterile bandage or clean dressing.
Over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain and swelling. Do NOT give children under 12 aspirin. Once the skin has cooled, moisturizing lotion also can help.Minor burns will usually heal without further treatment. However, if a second-degree burn covers an area more than 2 to 3 inches in diameter, or if it is located on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint, treat the burn as a major burn.Make sure the person is up to date on tetanus immunization.
- Do NOT apply ointment, butter, ice, medications, cream, oil spray, or any household remedy to a severe burn.
- Do NOT breathe, blow, or cough on the burn.
- Do NOT disturb blistered or dead skin.
- Do NOT remove clothing that is stuck to the skin.
- Do NOT give the person anything by mouth, if there is a severe burn.
- Do NOT immerse a severe burn in cold water. This can cause shock.
- Do NOT place a pillow under the person’s head if there is an airways burn. This can close the airways.
SKIN BURN FOLLOW UP
If your burn is not healing, becomes more painful, or appears infected, you should see a healthcare provider.
Most skin burns that are small and superficial will heal within one week and will not usually scar. After a superficial partial-thickness burn, the skin may become darker or lighter in color, but will not usually scar.
Call Immediately for Emergency Medical Assistance if
Call 911 if:
- The burn is extensive (the size of your palm or larger).
- The burn is severe (third degree).
- You aren’t sure how serious it is.
- The burn is caused by chemicals or electricity.
- The person shows signs of shock.
- The person inhaled smoke.
- Physical abuse is the known or suspected cause of the burn.
- There are other symptoms associated with the burns
Call a doctor if your pain is still present after 48 hours.
source: health all refer.com