A burn injury occurs when heat, a chemical, electricity, radiation, or sunlight damages skin tissue. Burn injuries can be minor or require treatment at specialized burns centers and several months of follow-up care. Car accidents, work injuries or fires caused by negligence can cause these potentially serious injuries.
Burns in general
Burns are damage to tissue from heat, chemical or electrical contact or overexposure to the sun or other radiation. Treatment depends on the location and damage severity.
Usually, small scalds and sunburn can be treated at home. Immediate medical treatment is needed for deep or widespread burns.
Typical causes include fire, hot steam or liquid, electrical currents, radiation from x-rays and other sources and hot metal, glass or other objects. Other causes include chemicals such as strong acids, lye, paint thinner or gasoline. Sunlight, a tanning bed, or other ultraviolet radiation also cause burns.
Burn symptoms are different and depend on the deepness of the skin damage. Signs and symptoms make take up to a day or two to develop.
- A first-degree burn, the comparatively minor burn, affects the skin’s outer layer known as the epidermis. It may cause redness and pain.
- A second-degree burn affects the epidermis and the second layer of skin known as the dermis. Blisters sometimes develop. Pain can be severe. There may be scarring.
- A third-degree burn reaches to the fat layer underneath the skin. Burned areas can be black, brown or white. Skin may appear leathery. These burns can destroy nerves and cause numbness.
Deep or widespread burns can have serious complications that include:
- Bacterial infection that may lead to sepsis.
- Fluid loss and low blood volume known as hypovolemia.
- Dangerously low body temperature or hypothermia.
- Breathing problem from intaking hot air or smoke.
- Scars or ridged areas from an overgrowth of scar tissue.
- Bone and joint problems that may come from scar tissue causing the shortening of skin, muscles or tendons.
You should seek emergency medical care for these burns:
- Burns covering hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, a major joint or large body area.
- Deep burns affecting all layers of the skin or even deeper tissues.
- Burns causing the skin to appear leathery.
- Burns from chemicals or electricity.
- Breathing difficulties or airway burns.
While waiting for emergency assistance, utilize first-aid measures. Call your physician if you have any of the following:
- Oozing, increased pain, redness and swelling and other signs of infections.
- A burn or blister that is large or does not heal in two weeks.
- New and unexplained symptoms.
- Significant scarring.
Burns may require extensive medical care. An attorney can help pursue compensation for medical bills and other losses.