Burn (injury)

From ArticleWorld

A burn injury is a special type of injury caused by factors like heat, chemical substances, radiation or electricity. Mild burn injuries are not deadly, but if they are very deep or if they cover large areas of the body, they can be deadly or cause complications. If a burn injury, no matter how mild, affects an organ of the body (like those occurring to lungs when hot smoke is inhaled) should be treated as medical emergencies.

Types of burn injury

Modern vernacular terminology includes three basic degrees:

  1. First degree burns. These burn injuries are superficial, and symptoms are limited to redness and pain of the skin.
  2. Second degree burns are more profound. They also include redness and pain, but also cause blistering of the skin.
  3. Third degree burns are quite similar to second degree burns. However, they also cause charring of the skin, or the formation of a special type of scab called eschar. These scabs are separated from the unaffected part, burning away nerves as well. This renders them painless, but not less dangerous.
  4. There is also a "fourth degree", when the burn affects the tissues under the skin, like muscles or bones. These can lead to severe complications.

Chemical burns are caused by corrosive agents, like sodium hydroxide or nitrous acid. In fact, most of the burn-causing chemical compounds are acids or bases. External chemical burns can lead scars if they are severe enough. Internal chemical burns can be associated with poisoning, rendering them more difficult to treat.

Electrical burns can appear due to events like electrocution, lightning strike or defibrilation without conductive gel. In most cases of electrical burns, the external area affected by the burn is minimum, but the internal injuries can be severe and extended on large areas. Electrical burns can be deadly.

A special type of burning is the scald -- a burn injury caused by a non-solid material, like hot water or vapors. Scalds are normally regional and non-deadly, but they can cause serious damage if they enter an orifice.

First aid and treatment

First aid in burn injury cases should consist of immersing the injured area or limb into cool, clean water. This is done in order to cool down the burnt area and prevent potential infections. Under no circumstances should the area be immersed in a flammable, corrosive or dense liquids like petrol, alcohol or oil, or in unclean water.

Scars and other complications can be seriously improved if treatment is carried out in a specialized unit instead of a regular hospital.