A burn is a type of injury that causes damage or death to the cells of the body or skin. Burns are the most common cause and greatest risk of injury to children at home, but they can also happen in many other situations. A burn is more than the burning sensation you may feel when something hot touches your skin. Burns can cause serious damage to your body and lead to tissue cell death.
BURN INJURY CATEGORIES AND BURN TREATMENT OPTIONS
Depending on the way you were burned and how severe the burn injury is, you may recover without serious repercussions. However, severe burns can require extensive medical care at a burn center, including skin grafts, surgeries, medication to reduce pain, and ongoing services from a medical professional for an extended time.
Burn injuries are categorized into three main degree levels, first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns, based on the severity and depth of injury. Let's review each degree of injury and the burn treatments provided to victims.
First Degree Burns
These are the most minor burn injuries, and the damaged area is mostly only the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis. Burn symptoms vary depending on the level of damage, the total body surface area affected, and the type of burn sustained. First-degree burn symptoms include red but usually non-blistered skin. A common first-degree burn can come from a mild sunburn.
Second Degree Burns
This middle category of burns is more severe than first-degree burns and can appear as blisters and thickened skin at the site of the burn. A second-degree burn is also called a partial thickness burn because the burned areas involve two layers of skin, not only the epidermis but also the dermis. They are usually more painful than first-degree injuries and require additional treatment.
Third Degree Burns
The most serious burn injuries fall into the third-degree category. A third-degree burn victim can experience multiple layers of skin damage and widespread skin thickening, which can include a leathery, white appearance. Also, if the burn involves a major joint like the knee, ankle, shoulder, or spine, it may be classified as a third-degree burn.
Do Fourth-Degree Burns Exist?
For extreme cases, doctors have created a fourth category to describe deep burns, also known as full-thickness burns. This category of injury extends beyond the third degree because the burn penetrates all of the skin's layers and damages bones or tendons.
Common Burn Treatments
Second-degree and milder burns may be treated on an outpatient basis and heal within a few weeks. More serious burn victims are usually treated at burn centers. Healthcare providers at burn centers understand the specialized care needed to help patients with severe burns. Treatments for milder burns can include:
- Use of antibiotic ointments on the burned area,
- Daily cleaning to remove dead skin and medications,
- Changing bandages or dressings, especially around hair follicles and
- Intravenous antibiotic or pain-reducing medications.
More severe injuries involving third-degree burns may cause extensive tissue damages that require skin grafts and other surgical procedures. Burns can be extremely painful for a long time because they can impact nerve endings in your skin. These can require pain management, occupational therapy, and emotional counseling to overcome. These extensive treatments are expensive but necessary to help burn victims recover and cope with their injuries.
HOW DO BURN INJURIES AND ACCIDENTS OCCUR?
According to the American Burn Association, each year, over 480,000 people suffer burns that require medical treatment, with more than 45,000 hospitalizations, including treatment at burn centers. These burn injuries occur in many places, but the American Burn Association did a study over 10 year period which found burn accidents occurred: 73% at home, 8% at work, 5% on the street or highway, 5% during recreational or sports activities, and 9% occur in other locations.
Leading Causes of Burns
There are four main types of burns: thermal burns, chemical burns, electrical burns, and radiation burns.
Thermal burns are injuries related to excessive heat. They typically come from skin touching hot surfaces or liquids, steam, or an open flame.
Chemical burns can be caused by strong acids, gasoline, paint thinner, or other substances like household products and drain cleaners. These chemicals can cause an inhalation injury as well as skin burns when prolonged exposure.
An electrical burn is caused by an electrical current passing through your body. The current can cause tissue damage at the electrical contact or entry site, and travel through the body, causing internal damage, along with further burns at the exit point.
Finally, thermal burns are subcategorized into four groups:
- Flash burns caused by an explosion of natural gas, propane, gasoline, or flammable liquid,
- Flame burns caused by prolonged contact with intense heat such as a house fire, improper handling of flammable liquids, automobile accidents, or clothing set aflame by a stove or heater,
- Scalding burns when hot liquids such as water, oil, gas, or tar contact the body, and
- Contact burns from hot objects such as hot metals, plastics, glass, or coals.
A variety of accidents can cause these different types of burns. For example, a car accident could cause a person to sustain a radiation or chemical burn if a hazardous truck was involved or a thermal burn from contact with ignited gasoline or a car's heated metal frame.
Motorcycle accidents are known to cause friction burns, also known as road rash. Burn accidents can occur in any circumstance where a person comes into contact with a heated item or substance, but many burns are caused by car accidents or electrical issues in the home, including defective home appliances that burst into flames unexpectedly.
BURN INJURIES ARE USUALLY MORE THAN JUST BURNED SKIN
In severe cases, burns can cause serious physical injuries as well as profound psychological damage. A burn victim who suffers a severe burn may face devastating physical, financial, and emotional consequences.
Severe burn victims may struggle with physical abilities, such as the use of their legs or arms, scarring, and infections due to the burning skin decreasing their immunity. A severe burn can cause deep skin damage and affect the entire body in many ways. Burns also may result in emotional issues like nightmares and depression.
Burn treatments can be extensive and expensive. If someone else is responsible for your burn injury, you may be able to request compensation for your medical expenses, lost income and wages, pain and suffering, and other losses depending on your circumstances. Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer to know for sure.
CONTACT AN DEDICATED ST. LOUIS PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
If you have suffered a burn injury after an accident, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help protect your legal rights and interests. Don't wait to contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation. Call The Bruning Law Firm at 314-735-8100 or contact us online today.