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Burns - Causes, Treatment

By:   |   Jul 08, 2018   |   Views: 27   |   Comments: 0
A burn is damage to your body's tissues caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight or radiation. Scalds from hot liquids and steam, building fires and flammable liquids and gases are the most common causes of burns.

Eyes, particularly the cornea (the clear window of tissue on the front of the eyeball), can be easily damaged by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from other sources of ultraviolet light, such as a welder's arc, a photographer's flood lamps, a sun lamp, or even a halogen desk lamp.

There are three levels of burns:

* First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin. They cause pain, redness, and swelling.

* Second-degree (partial thickness) burns affect both the outer and underlying layer of skin. They cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering.

* Third-degree (full thickness) burns extend into deeper tissues. They cause white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.

Causes of Burns

Burns can cause swelling, blistering, scarring and, in serious cases, shock and even death. They also can lead to infections because they damage your skin's protective barrier. Antibiotic creams can prevent or treat infections. After a third-degree burn, you need skin or synthetic grafts to cover exposed tissue and encourage new skin to grow. First- and second-degree burns usually heal without grafts.

Categories

The categories of burns and their treatment very much depend on the depth, area and location of the burn. Burn depth is generally categorized as first, second or third degree. A first degree burn is superficial and has similar characteristics to a typical sun burn. The skin is red in color and sensation is intact. In fact, it is usually somewhat painful. Second degree burns look similar to the first degree burns; however, the damage is now severe enough to cause blistering of the skin and the pain is usually somewhat more intense. In third degree burns the damage has progressed to the point of skin death. The skin is white and without sensation.

Burns are usually caused by heat (thermal burns), such as fire, steam, tar, or hot liquids. Burns caused by chemicals are similar to thermal burns, whereas burns caused by radiation (see Radiation Injury), sunlight (see Sunlight and Skin Damage: Introduction), and electricity (see Electrical and Lightning Injuries: Electrical Injuries) tend to differ significantly.

How are burns treated?

The treatment depends on what kind of burn you have. If a first- or second-degree burn covers an area larger than 2 to 3 inches in diameter, or is on your face, hands, feet or genitals, you should see a doctor right away. Third-degree burns require emergency medical attention.

Caution

* Don't use ice. Putting ice directly on a burn can cause frostbite, further damaging your skin.
* Don't apply butter or ointments to the burn. This could prevent proper healing.
* Don't break blisters. Broken blisters are vulnerable to infection.

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