Burns and Scalds

Burns and scalds are injuries to the body’s tissue or skin and are classified into 3 degrees of severity, according to the depth of the injury:
  • First degree: causing damage to the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis
  • Second degree: causing deeper damage to the layer beneath the epidermis
  • Third degree: causing the deepest damage and destruction of all layers of the skin and damage to tissues underneath

Causes

  • Sunlight
  • Heat
  • Chemicals
  • Electricity
  • Radiation

Symptoms

  • Pain
  • First degree burns: Red and dry skin without blisters
  • Second degree burns: Wet and red skin; the skin will turn pale white when poked or pressure is applied; blisters appear immediately or after a while
  • Third degree burns: Severe burn, no elasticity, and no pain

Treatment

  • At the scene of the accident: Cool the area under cold running water or apply a cold-water compress. Do not break any blisters. Do not apply toothpaste, ice, fish sauce or other home remedies.
  • At the hospital: Clean the burned area with a saline solution. Apply silver sulfadiazine cream. Change the dressing after 24-48 hours. Give pain medication regularly and antibiotics if necessary. Wound management is under care of burn surgeon and dermatologist.

Hospitalization is required in the following situations:

  • Burns cover a large area.
  • Patient is younger than 5 years old or older than 55 years old.
  • Electrical burns
  • Some third degree burns with circumferential burns that go right around the body, arm, leg or finger
  • Patient has another serious medical condition such as diabetes or takes immunosuppressive medications

Prevention

Apply extra caution when handling hot items or electrical appliances.
 
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