Why are Burns Caused and How Can We Best Treat Them?

Various factors could cause burns, more than we might expect. Burns are distinguished by being either thermal, chemical, electrical or caused by radiation. Thermal burns are caused by the action of high temperature on human skin (e.g. burns with hot liquid or fire). Chemical burns occur when the skin is treated with chemicals (acids, bases, organic compounds). They can occur in various states of aggregation. If there is an electric shock or lightning, it is electric burns. In turn, radiation burns are caused by the harmful effects of radiation (e.g. solar radiation). However, due to the depth burns, four degrees are distinguished and currently classified as follows:

  • First degree burns – the skin is red, swollen, it burns, but the symptoms disappear after a few days without a trace; usually these types of burns are caused by tanning or exposure to steam;

  • Second degree burns – redness, pain and swelling are accompanied by blisters with serous fluid; blisters are dead epidermis, inflammatory processes take place on the border with the dermis – this type of burn changes usually occur after chemical burns;

  • Third degree burns – the entire thickness of the skin is destroyed, sometimes even down to the bones, often part of the necrotic area dries up and forms white-gray or yellow scabs; their surface is insensitive to touch, but they cause pain; the necrotic tissues in the third degree of burns separate and in their place granulation tissue and scars appear;

  • Fourth degree burns – tissue necrosis under the skin occurs; includes muscles, bones and tendons; the cause of such a burn is usually a long contact with a flame.

When a burn injury occurs, we must first eliminate its cause as soon as possible – if our clothing catches fire, we extinguish the flame as soon as possible. If the cause of the burn is chemical substances, we must remember not to pour water until the corrosive substance is removed from the body of the victim.

In addition, when providing first aid, we should not remove the clothing of the person as it could stick to the body. Home remedies for burns are not recommendable (spreading with cream, fat or a broken egg). They can lead to infection. A common mistake in treating burns is also piercing the blisters – under no circumstances should this be done. In the event of a burn, pour cold water over the area, apply cold compresses until the pain subsides (up to half an hour). If there are injuries to the mouth, we can give the injured person an ice cube. Sometimes gargling with cold water also helps in these cases. When these actions are ineffective, you need to see a doctor. In the hospital, specialists cool the sensitive area, disinfect with hydrogen peroxide, give the patient painkillers and apply a dressing to the burned area. In the case of very extensive and deep burns, skin grafts are sometimes performed, and sometimes amputation is necessary. Burns leave lifelong scars – if they are large, they can be removed by plastic surgery.

Burns can be some of the worst injuries humans sustain. Unlike other mammals, our skin is our front line of defense, and so any harm done to it effect the rest of our body. That’s why it is especially important to not only take care of our skin on a daily basis, but take the right course of action after a burn occurs.

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