WHAT IS A BURN?
A burn is a type of injury to the flesh or skin which can be
caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, friction or radiation:
There are three types of burns:
• First-degree burns damage only the outer layer of
• Second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the
• Third-degree burns damage or destroy the deepest
layer of skin and tissues underneath
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Burns can cause swelling, blistering, scarring and, in
serious cases, shock and even death.
They also can lead to infections because they damage
your skin's protective barrier. Antibiotic creams can
prevent or treat infections.
After a third-degree burn, you need skin or synthetic
grafts to cover exposed tissue and encourage new skin
to grow. First- and second-degree burns usually heal
Thermal burns: may result from any external heat
source (flame, liquid, solid objects or gases)
Radiation burns: most commonly result from prolonged
exposure to solar ultraviolet radiations (sunburn) or
from exposure to sources of x-ray or other non solar
Chemical burns: may result from strong acids, strong
alkalis, phenols, cresols, mustard gas, or phosphorous.
Electrical burns: result from the electrical generation of
heat; they may cause extensive deep tissue damage
despite minimal apparent cutaneous injury.
Modifiable Risk Factors
• Careless smoking: Cigarettes are the leading cause of house fires.
• Absent or nonfunctioning smoke detectors: The presence of a functioning
smoke detector decreases risk of death by fire by 60 percent.
Use of wood stoves
Exposed heating sources or electrical cords
Unsafe storage of flammable or caustic materials
Water heaters set above 120°F
Microwave heated foods and containers
Substandard or older housing
Substance abuse: Use of alcohol and illegal drugs increases risk.
Non modifiable risk factors:
• Age: Children under 4 who are poorly
supervised are at particular risk.
• Gender: Males are more than twice as likely to
suffer burn injuries.
Most minor burns will heal on their own, and home treatment is
usually all that is needed to relive your symptoms and promote
healing. But if you suspect you may have a more severe
injury, use first aid measures while you arrange for an
evacuation by your doctor
First, stop the burning to prevent a more severe burns.
Heat burns (thermal burns): Smother any flames by covering them with a
blanket or water. If your clothing catches fire, do not run: stop, drop, and roll
on the ground to smother the flames.
Cold temperature burns: Try first aid measures to warm the areas. Small
areas of your body (ears, face, nose, fingers, toes) that are really cold or
frozen can be warmed by blowing warm air on them, tucking them inside
your clothing or putting them in warm water.
Liquid chemical hot plastic and
Liquid scald burns (thermal burns): Run cool tap water
over the burn for 10 to 20 minutes. Do not use ice.
Electrical burns: After the person has been separated from
the electrical source, check for breathing and a heartbeat.
If the person is not breathing or does not have a
heartbeat, call 911.
Chemical burns: Natural foods such as chili
peppers, which contain a substance irritating to the
skin, can caused burning sensation.
Tar or hot plastic burns: Immediately run cold water over
the hot tar or hot plastic to cool the tar or plastic.
Prepare for an evaluation by a doctor
If you are going to see your doctor soon:
Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth to reduce the risk
Do not put any salve or medicine on the burned
area, so your doctor can properly assess your burn.
Do not put ice or butter on the burned area, because
these measures do not help and can damage the skin