Burns is the damage or an injury generally caused by heat. It affects the largest organ of the body – “The skin”. It is one of the common household injuries. Burns can be minor medical problems or life-threatening emergencies. The majority of burn injuries are superficial and can be managed conservatively.
Burn injuries can occur due to
- Flames/Fire Burns
- Contact Burns – contact with hot Objects
- Chemical Burns – contact with chemical agents like acid/alkali, and lye gasoline. Even concentered bathroom cleaners can cause these burns.
- Cracker Burns – these are firecracker injuries that have both heat injury and wound due to the bursting nature of the crackers. Most commonly affects the face and hand. These types of injuries are common in children
- Electrical Burns – caused by contact/passage of electricity through the body
- Radiation Burns- These are burns caused by a high dose of radiation like X-rays
Burns if treated early and properly reduces the chance of infection, scarring, contractures, and deformities. These are generally managed by plastic surgeons, who have in-depth knowledge about the skin and the healing process. The presentation of a patient to the plastic surgeon can in the following scenario:
- Acute Burns – immediately after burns
- Post Burn Raw Area – initial treatment done elsewhere and presenting with the burn wound
- Post-Burn Sequelae – Delayed presentation presenting with the complications of the burn injuries
- Unsightly scar
- Contractures of neck, hand & fingers
The prime parameters in the management of burn injuries are
- The area affected by burns is represented as the percentage of the total body surface area
- Depth of the burn injury
- Type/ cause of Burn Injury
- Regions involved in burns
Burn symptoms vary depending on how deep the skin damage is. Burn injuries are classified into 3 degrees based on the depth of the injury.
This superficial burn affects only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). It causes redness and pain. This burn injury heals spontaneously. Medication usually will be required for pain.
This type of burn affects both the epidermis and the second layer of skin (dermis). It may cause swelling and red, white, or splotchy skin. Blisters may develop, and pain can be severe. Deep second-degree burns might need surgery for skin cover. It will also cause scarring.
This burn reaches the fat layer beneath the skin. Burned areas may be black, brown, or white. The skin may look leathery. Third-degree burns can destroy nerves, causing numbness. This will definitely require a cleaning procedure and skin cover if the defect is large.