Unfortunately, every day people get burned in a variety of accidents at home or at work. While most burns are minor, some can be quite severe. All burns should be carefully treated to prevent infection and other complications. Here is a look at the different classifications of burns and their treatments.
For all burn treatments, the heat has to be removed from the wound so that further damage does not occur. This includes putting out any fires, and removing any burn agents like hot oils, chemicals, or clothing.
Superficial minor burns
These burns are usually minor, and often can be taken care of at home. The burn needs to be carefully and thoroughly cleansed to help prevent infection. If there is dirt or debris embedded in the burn, the doctor may have to administer a local anesthetic to numb the area so that it can be cleaned thoroughly.
Deep Minor Burns
Deep minor burns need medical attention, and your doctor may require you to stay in the hospital or have daily visits during the initial healing process. These burns may cover large areas of the body or be very deep. Some may need skin grafts in order to help the burn to heal.
Skin grafts are used to replace damage skin when there are large areas of burned skin. The procedure usually needs to be done within the first few days after a burn occurs in order to achieve maximum results. These can help the skin by protecting and covering it so that it has time to heal on its own. During the procedure, a piece of healthy skin tissue is removed from a healthy area of the victim’s body, from another person (living or dead), or even from an animal such as a pig. Some doctors are even looking at the use of artificial skin. The wound area is cleaned and any dead tissue is removed prior to the graft procedure. The skin graft is then sewn onto the damage areas. Unfortunately, grafts from other people and animals usually will not last more than two weeks before the burn victim’s immune system starts to reject them and they will no longer work.
Even more concerning than the other two types of burns, severe burns need care immediately or they can become life threatening. Also known as third and fourth degree burns, burns of this type usually require extended hospital stays. The burned area must be kept clean in order to prevent infection. Since large areas of the body are usually involved, dehydration is another concern. These burns can cause permanent disfigurement, so care may be needed for depression and psychological disorders as well.
Once a patient has returned home, general care is generally followed to help prevent infection and to minimize the pain. Ointments or special bandages may be prescribed to help keep the wound clean. The burn victim should continue to monitor the wound to watch for signs of infection and to make sure that it is healing properly.