Skin burn is a common injury. A burn injury can be minor or life-threatening. For example, small-scale household mishaps lead to small burns, which can be easily treated at home. However, sometimes burns can be severe, for which a person might have to be hospitalized.
How a burn is treated will depend on what category it falls into.
What are the categories of Skin Burn?
- First-degree burns: the uppermost layer of your skin is the epidermis. Burns to this layer are first-degree burns. These are the mildest injuries and do not cause blistering. Its characteristics are soreness, redness, pain and itching. They scab and peel in a week.
- Second-degree burns: they damage the second layer of the skin or ‘dermis’. They are painful and oozing blisters develop almost immediately. These burns take around two weeks to heal.
- Third degree burns: these are burns to the third layer of skin. So, that means, the entire thickness of the skin is injured. The person does not feel any pain as the nerves are damaged. Healing takes quite some time as the tissues are extensively damaged. Even when they heal and new tissues and skin form, contractures or a tightening of the skin at the site of the burn may happen. This can lead to permanent scarring.
What Causes Skin Burns?
There are different ways a person might acquire a burn injury.
- If fire causes the burn, then it is a ‘flame burn’. Direct contact with fire can injure not just the skin but the tissues underneath it as well.
- If a hot liquid causes the burn, you get a ‘scald’. The degree of the scald increases with the density of the liquid and how long it was heated.
- If you burn yourself when you touch a hot object like a hot cooking utensil, then you get a ‘contact burn’.
- You may get ‘sunburn’ if you have been exposed to the sun’s UV rays for long. This happens if you don’t take the necessary precautions before stepping outdoors. To know more about how you can protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, you can consult a dermatologist on MediBuddy.
- If you are electrocuted, you get ‘electrical burns’. These burns are dangerous because they extensively damage layers of underlying tissues.
- If you come in contact with hot gases, it can cause ‘chemical burns’.
Skin Burn Treatment
First-degree burn treatment: Since these are small-scale injuries, you don’t need to visit a doctor unless your eyes, throat, ears, or face is affected. Apply cool compresses to reduce the swelling and ease the discomfort. Keep the site moist and apply a band-aid or a dressing when you step out of the house. You can also use an over-the-counter burn ointment.
Second-degree burn treatment: Dip the affected skin into cool water as soon as possible. If there is a rupture, clean it gently using a saline solution. If blisters develop, contact your doctor because the liquid in the blisters can cause infection and you might need medication. You may also have to take painkillers to deal with the pain.
Third-degree burn treatment: People who suffer these kinds of burns should be rushed to the hospital immediately. The aim is to prevent the affected site from getting infected through a procedure called debridement — extracting dead skin and tissues from the burn site and covering the wound with a skin graft.
Then, doctors will inject antibiotics intravenously. The person will also be given electrolytes to boost healing. It takes longer to recover from third-degree burns, more so if you are a diabetic.