Burns

Table of Contents

What are Burns?

Burns are tissue damage due to overexposure to heat, sun, radiation, and direct contact with chemicals or electricity. Burns can be a minor medical problem or a life-threatening emergency if the condition is very severe.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burns have become a global health issue that cause about 180,000 deaths per year. Most occur in low- and middle-income countries. Nearly two-thirds of burns sufferers live in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Treatment for burns depends on the location and severity of the damage. Minor or small burns can usually be treated at home. Deep or widespread burns require immediate medical attention. Some people may require treatment at a special burns centers and get follow-up care for the next few months.

If you suffer from severe burns, get emergency treatment from a dermatologist immediately through Smarter Health.

Causes of Burns

There are many factors that cause burns, such as:

  • Fire
  • Electric current.
  • Liquid or hot steam.
  • Radiation, like from an X-ray.
  • Hot metal, glass or other objects.
  • Chemicals such as acids, alkalis, paint thinners, or gasoline.
  • Sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet radiation, such as tanning beds

Burn wound depth can cause complications, including:

  • Extremely low body temperature (hypothermia).
  • Respiratory problems caused by hot air or smoke.
  • Bacterial infection can cause bloodstream infection (sepsis).
  • Fluid loss, including lack of blood volume (hypovolemia).
  • Scars or jagged areas caused by the growth of scarring (keloid).
  • Bone and joint problems, such as when scarring causes tightening of the skin, muscles or tendons (contractures).

When to See a Doctor for Burns

Your dermatologist will assess the severity of your burns. You will likely to be transferred to a special burn center if your burns cover about 10% of your total surface area, are very deep, and affect your face, legs, groin, and so on.

Your doctor will check for other injuries and may order laboratory tests, X-rays, or other diagnostic procedures.

After that, your doctor will recommend treatment methods according to your burn condition

Symptoms of Burns

The symptoms of burns vary greatly, depending on the skin damage’s severity. It may take 1 or 2 days for the signs and symptoms of severe burns to develop. There are various degrees of burns depending on the depth of the burn wound: 

  • 1st degree burns. These minor burns only attack the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) which can cause redness and pain.
  • 2nd degree burns. This type of burn affects the epidermis and the second layer of skin (dermis). 2nd degree burns can cause swollen skin, redness, or white patches. Blisters from burns can develop and pain can be severe. If the condition is very severe, burns can cause scarring.  
  • 3rd degree burns. This type of burn reaches a layer of fat under the skin that makes the skin look rough. The burned area may be black, brown or white. 3rd degree burns can damage nerves and cause numbness.

Treatment for Burns

In many cases, minor burns can be treated at home as they will usually heal within a few weeks. For more severe burns, your dermatologist will diagnose and examine your burns. Treatments such as surgery, therapy, or medications can help control pain, remove dead tissue, prevent infection, and reduce the risk of scarring.

If you have severe burns, you are required to get treatment at a special burns center. You may need a skin graft to cover a large wound. Additionally, you may also need emotional support and follow-up care for months, such as physical therapy.

Treatment Cost for Burns

Your doctor may recommend several treatment methods such as therapy or surgical procedure – depending on the condition of your burns. The more severe the burn, the higher the treatment cost.

To calculate the estimated cost for burns treatment at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Burns

You can try to follow these tips to prevent burns:

  • Avoid smoking in bed.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from water.
  • Turn the pan’s handle owards the back of the stove.
  • Before putting your child in the car seat, check the hot strap.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on every floor of your home.
  • Keep hot liquids out of reach of children and pets.
  • Avoid cooking while wearing loosefitting clothes that could catch fire above the stove.
  • Do not carry or hold children when cooking on the stove.
  • When using chemicals, always wear glasses and protective clothing.
  • Do not leave items cooking on the stove unattended.
  • Unplug irons and similar devices when not in use. Keep them out of reach of children.
  • Cover unused electrical outlets with a safety cap. Keep the power cord out of reach of children 
  • Check the temperature of the food before serving it to children. Do not heat a baby’s bottle in the microwave.
  • Make sure you have functional smoke detectors on every floor of the house. Check and replace the battery once a year.
  • Keep chemicals and matches out of reach of children. Do not use matches that look like toys.
  • Set your water heating thermostat below 48.9 C to prevent heat. Test the warmth of the bath water first
  • If a small child is present, block his or her access to heat sources such as stoves, outdoor grills, fireplaces and heaters.

Home Remedies for Burns 

Follow the steps below to treat minor burns at home:

  • Remove rings or any other tight items. Do this before the burned area swells.
  • Take painkillers such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen to help relieve pain.
  • Consider getting a tetanus shot. Doctors recommend you should get a tetanus shot at least every 10 years.
  • Cool the burns with running water or use a cold, wet compress (do not use ice) until the pain subsides.
  • Do not break the blisters, as they contain infectious fluid. It is best to clean the area with water and apply antibiotic ointment. Stop using ointment if your skin develops a red rash.
  • Once the burn is completely cold, apply lotion. You can use lotions containing aloe vera or moisturizer. It helps relieve pain.
  • Cover the wound with a sterile bandage (not a fine cotton swab). Wrap loosely to avoid pressure on burned skin. Bandages prevent air from coming out of the burn, reduce pain, and protect blistered skin.

Have more questions about burns? Write them down in the comment section below or make an appointment with dermatologists at home and abroad through Smarter Health.

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