Burns occur when skin is exposed to heat, sun, radiation, chemical, or due to coming in contact with a live circuit. The degree of burn, the after-effects and the remedies vary depending on the source of burn. The degree of burn and the location decides the kind of burn treatment and first-aid it may need. While some kinds of burns may need minor medical intervention, palliative care, emergency surgery or a combination of all; deep seated burns can result in life-threatening complications. Such burns affecting a major part of the body may need immediate medical intervention. People may also require medical care at specialized burn centers and prolonged medical treatments of various kinds. These include not only healing the burnt body parts but also, at times, reconstruction of minor organs or even plastic surgery.
Burns are classified in three degrees. A first-degree burn is usually a minor burn affecting only the outer layer of skin and normally causes redness and pain. The second-degree burn affects epidermis and dermis, the first two layers of skin and may develop in swelling, blisters and at times scarring. A third-degree burn reaches the fat beneath the skin and may look brown, black or white. It is likely to destroy nerves and cause numbing.
So what causes burns and how can we prevent them?
Let us examine some common causes of burn:
- Exposure to sunlight is the most primary source of burn, commonly referred to as sunburns. Prolonged exposure to the sun without sunscreen can at times result in severe burns, especially on the exposed areas of the body such as the face, shoulders or back.
- The most common cause of burn is exposure to fire. This mostly occurs while cooking, grilling, baking, or even leaving a candle or incense stick unattended.
- A short circuit, an oven or an unattended hot iron are all potential sources of fire.
- Another source of burns includes hot liquid or steam, either due to exposure to hot bath water, or even simply food cooked at a high temperature.
- Metal objects are likely to heat up twice as fast as other surfaces. Moreover, burns caused due to metallic objects are likely to affect deeply and known to cause scarring more often than other causes of burns.
- Electrical current due to an open circuit, loose wire, scraped off wire covering or electrocution due to contact with wet surfaces are commonly observed burn sources.
- Patients undergoing radiation therapy, X-ray, laser therapy etc., are exposed to potential chances of burn injuries occurring at the time of treatment.
- Cosmetic treatments such as lasering, tanning etc., can also cause burning if due precautions and aftercare are not observed.
- Chemicals such as cleaning acids, industrial detergents paint thinners and even fuels like gasoline are known to cause severe burns and must be handled carefully.
So how can one minimize the chances of getting burn injuries? The simplest way to do so is staying alert and practicing caution when handling potential burn sources. Preventive measures such as keeping a fire extinguisher, first-aid for burns, ice packs and burn ointment handy can help to minimize the intensity of burns.
Ontario HBOT practices a non-invasive medical treatment designed to enhance the body’s natural healing capability by pumping purifies 100% oxygen in a pressurized room. This process, also known as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, is extremely effective in treating thermal burns, burn wounds and burn injuries.