Posted in Personal Injury on October 22, 2019
A burn is an injury from contact between the skin and sources of thermal, electrical, chemical or radiation energies. Exposure to hazardous energy can damage or permanently destroy the skin, as well as affect underlying tissues such as muscles and tendons. The more serious the burn injury, the greater its impact on the victim. A minor burn may not leave behind any permanent damage, but a serious burn could be fatal. Physicians classify burn injuries into four (or sometimes three) degrees according to how severe the damages to the patient.
It is important to classify a burn to know how best to treat the injury, as well as to gauge an accurate prognosis of recovery for the victim. Most physicians use a four-degree classification system, but some standards classify burns into only three different degrees. Either way, the lower degrees represent more minor burn injuries while the higher degrees mean serious and potentially life-threatening burns.
The stage of a burn injury can change over time if the damage continues to extend deeper into the skin’s tissues during treatment or recovery. Third- and fourth-degree burns can cause complications that go beyond skin damage, such as infections and bone problems. A severe burn could affect many bodily functions and systems, requiring professional medical treatment.
If you suffer a burn injury, stay calm and try to classify the burn. No blistering will generally mean you can treat the burn yourself at home, unless the first-degree burn affects larger than a four-inch area or a sensitive location such as your face or hands. For a first-degree thermal burn, the best course of treatment is generally cooling the burn by running room-temperature water over the affected area. However, electrical, chemical and radiation burns may require different treatments.
A second- to fourth-degree burn will generally require a trip to the hospital. Burn injuries that break the skin have a high risk of infection. A doctor may need to administer a tetanus shot as well as clean and debride the wound to help prevent infection. A doctor can also prescribe pain relievers during recovery. Do not break a blister from a burn injury. Keep the area clean and loosely bandaged while healing. Burns can take weeks or months to heal depending on the degree. Serious burn injuries may require surgeries and skin grafts to repair the damage.