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I am bedridden due to burns

Kindly find a space in your weekly and dedicated useful health column to enlighten us about burns. I had a car accident and the car caught fire. I was affected and suffered burns. Inform your readers about burns, complications and remedy.

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Beatrice B.


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Thanks Beatrice for your question and I also sincerely wish you a quick recovery. A burn injury is a destruction of the different layers of the skin and the structures within the skin, such as sweat glands, oil glands, and hair follicles. 

Heat generated from the fire or heat source and the amount of time the skin is exposed to the heat is what damages the skin. The depth of injury is described as a first, second, and third degree burn.

Classifications of burns

1. First-degree burn: This minor burn affects only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). It causes redness and pain and usually resolves with first-aid measures within several days to a week.

2. Second-degree burn: These burns affect both the epidermis and the second layer of skin (dermis), causing redness, pain and swelling. A second-degree burn often looks wet or moist. Blisters may develop and pain can be severe. 

3. Third-degree burn: Burns that reach into the fat layer beneath the dermis are called third-degree burns. The skin may appear stiff, waxy white, leathery or tan. 

4. Fourth-degree burn: The most severe form of burn affects structures well beyond the skin, such as muscle and bones. The skin may appear blackened or charred. If nerve damage is substantial, one may feel no pain at all.

Deep or widespread burns can lead to many complications, including:

1. Infection. Burns can leave skin vulnerable to bacterial infection and increase one’s risk of sepsis, a life-threatening infection that travels through your bloodstream and affects your whole body. 

2. Low blood volume (hypovolemia). Burns can damage blood vessels and cause fluid loss. This may result in low blood volume (hypovolemia). Severe blood and fluid loss prevents the heart from pumping enough blood to the body.

3. Dangerously low body temperature (hypothermia). The skin helps control the body’s temperature, so when a large portion of the skin is injured, one loses body heat. This increases risk of hypothermia.

4. Breathing (respiratory) problems. Breathing hot air or smoke can burn airways and cause breathing difficulties. Smoke inhalation damages the lungs and can cause respiratory failure.

5. Scarring. Burns can cause scars and keloids (ridged areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue.)

6. Bone and joint problems. Deep burns can limit movement of the bones and joints. Scar tissue can form and cause contractures.

While minor burns can be cared for at home, a doctor is needed for the following:

1. Increased pain, swelling, redness or discharge in the burned area

2. A burn that doesn’t heal in several weeks

3. New, unexplained symptoms

Seek emergency medical assistance for:

1. Burns that cover the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks or a major joint

2. Chemical or electrical burns

3. Third- or fourth-degree burns

4. Difficulty breathing or burns to the airway

Many substances can cause burns. They include:

1. Fire

2. Hot liquid or steam

3. Hot metal, glass or other objects

4. Electrical currents

5. Radiation from X-rays or radiation therapy to treat cancer

6. Sunlight or ultraviolet light from a sunlamp or tanning bed

7. Chemicals such as strong acids, lye, paint thinner or gasoline

What action to take?

Flames

1. Cool the burn area with cool water. Don not use ice.

2. Remove non-sticking burned clothing.

3. Cover the burn with a clean, dry bandage.

4. Seek medical attention immediately.

Contact burn (hot surface area such as hot iron)

1. Cool the burn area with cool water. Do not use ice.

2. Cover the burn with a clean, dry dressing.

3. Keep the person warm.

Electrical Burn:

1. Do not touch a person in contact with electricity as injury could result.

2. Disconnect the source of power.

3. After the power is off, provide medical assistance. 

 

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