Types of Burns & Prognosis, & Latest treatment advances
"We can all agree that burns are one of the most common household injuries, especially among those who cook regularly. The term ‘burn’ means a lot more than the sensation associated with the injury, it also encompasses the severe damage that it causes. "
Recovering from the burns depends on the causes and degree of the injury. Most of those who suffer from minor burns can recover from them without any serious health consequences. However, more serious burns require immediate emergency medical care to prevent fatal consequences.
Types Of Burns
Burns when cause minimal skin damage are called first-degree burns or ‘superficial burns’. This type of burns only affect the outermost layer of the skin and the signs include:
- Minor inflammation, or swelling
- Dry, peeling skin occurs as the burn heals
This type of burn affects only the top layer of the skin, so the signs and symptoms disappear once the skin cells shed, this usually takes 7 to 10 days.
This type of burn can be serious as the damage extends beyond the outer layer of the skin. Second-degree burns can cause blisters and soreness. Some blisters even pop open which makes the burn appear wet. Over time, a thick layer of soft scab-like tissue called fibrinous develop over the wound healing it. It usually takes longer than three weeks to heal and changes the pigmentation of the affected area. Second-degree burns cause delicate wounds therefore keeping the affected area clean is essential to prevent infections and speeding up the healing process.
Third-degree burns affect all three layers of the skin - epidermis, dermis and fat. This type of burn also destroys the hair follicles, sweat glands and nerve endings. Damage to the nerve endings may forever numb the area and you may not feel any sensation in that region.
Advanced Medical Treatment Of Burns
- Breathing Assistance: If the injury has affected the face or the neck, your throat may swell making it difficult to breathe. In such cases, your doctor may insert a tube down your windpipe to ensure your lungs get the oxygen they need to function.
- Feeding Tube: Severe burns may also affect your food pipe making it impossible for you to eat normally. To make sure you get your daily nourishment, a feeding tube will be passed through your nose to your stomach.
- Easing Blood Flow: When the burn covers the entire limb in terms of circumference, meaning when the burn scab goes completely around a limb, it blocks the blood circulation and poses the threat of cutting off the limb. To avoid that, doctors may have to cut off the eschar (burn scab).
- Skin Grafts: Skin grafting involves removing the patient’s healthy skin form an unaffected body part and replace the scar tissues in serious, deep burns. Donor skin from deceased donors can also be used when the body is extremely burnt and no part is healthy enough to provide grafts.
- Plastic Surgery: Plastic or reconstructive surgery is performed to improve the appearance of the scars and increase the flexibility if the joints affected by the scarring.
Dr Kalyan Chakravarthy
Consultant – Plastic Surgeon
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the organization.