Burns - Signs and Symptoms of Burns

by : Peter sams

Burns aims to foster the exchange of information among all engaged in preventing and treating the effects of thermal injury. The journal focuses on clinical, scientific and social aspects of these injuries and covers the prevention of thermal injury, the epidemiology of such injuries and all aspects of treatment. Regular features include clinical and scientific papers; state of the art reviews; case reports and descriptions of burn-care in practice; listings of current relevant literature and reviews of selected articles.

A burn can be caused by heat (flames, hot grease, or boiling water), the sun (solar radiation), chemicals or electricity. When a burn breaks the skin, infection and loss of fluid can occur; burns can also result in difficulty breathing. If a burn victim has trouble breathing, has burns on more than one part of the body, or was burned by chemicals, an explosion, or electricity immediately. Burns caused by flames or hot grease usually require medical attention as well, especially if the victim is a child or an elderly person.

Burns are often categorized as first-, second-, or third-degree burns, depending on how badly the skin is damaged. Each of the injuries above can cause any of these three types of burn. But both the type of burn and its cause will determine how the burn is treated. All burns should be treated quickly to reduce the temperature of the burned area and reduce damage to the skin and underlying tissue (if the burn is severe).

Signs and symptoms of burns

The symptoms of burns could be summed up in two parts. Minor and severe burns. Minor burns are painful and cause reddening and blistering of the skin while severe burns are painless causes white or charred area.

First-degree burns are mild and injure only the outer layer of skin. The skin becomes red, but will turn white when touched. The area may also be painful to the touch.

Second-degree burns are deeper, more severe, and very painful. Blisters may form on the burned area. This type of burn takes about 2 weeks to heal.
Third-degree burns are the deepest and most serious kind. The skin becomes white and leathery, but it does not feel very tender when touched.
Burns with a "sock" or "glove-like" appearance on hands or feet and "doughnut" shaped burns on the buttocks. These types of burns are usually caused by either dipping or forcing the child to sit in scalding liquid.

Burns which leave a pattern outlining the object which was used to make the burn such as an iron, electric burner, heater or fireplace tool;
Burns caused by rope friction, usually found on legs, arms, neck or torso as the result of having been tied up.

Treatment of burns

Cool small burns immediately under cold running water for at least ten minutes. Rinse chemical burns for 20 minutes.

Briefly rinse larger burns, avoiding excessive cooling.

Remove clothes in the area of the burn where possible, without causing further damage to the skin. Then either wrap the burned area in a clean clear plastic bag or place a clean smooth material, such as cling film, over the burn to prevent infection.

Minor burns can be treated at home with painkillers and sterile dressings (don't pop blisters). Deep or extensive burns, or burns to the face, hands or across joints, need to be assessed and treated in hospital.

The extent of burns can be estimated using special charts. More than ten per cent burns need hospital treatment (including intravenous fluids). Burns to more than 50 per cent of the body's surface carry a poor chance of survival.

Severe burns need specialised long-term management, which may include skin grafts or treatments to prevent contractures, as well as psychological support to deal with scarring.