- Thermal– including flame, radiation, or excessive heat from fire, steam, and hot liquids and hot objects.
- Chemical– including various acids, bases, and caustics.
- Electrical– including electrical current and lightning.
- Light– burns caused by intense light sources or ultraviolet light, which includes sunlight.
- Radiation – such as from nuclear sources. Ultraviolet light is also a source of radiation burns.
- First degree burns are superficial injuries that involve only the epidermis or outer layer of skin. They are the most common and the most minor of all burns. The skin is reddened and extremely painful. There may be peeling of the skin and some temporary discoloration.
- Second degree burns occur when the first layer of skin is burned through and the second layer, the dermal layer, is damaged but the burn does not pass through to underlying tissues. The skin appears moist and there will be deep intense pain, reddening, blisters and a mottled appearance to the skin.
- Third degree burns involve all the layers of the skin. They are referred to as full thickness burns and are the most serious of all burns. These are usually charred black and include areas that are dry and white. While a third-degree burn may be very painful, some patients feel little or no pain because the nerve endings have been destroyed. This type of burn may require skin grafting. As third degree burns heal, dense scars form.
Body regions burned – burns to the face are more severe because they could affect airway management or the eyes. Burns to hands and feet are also of special concern because they could impede movement of fingers and toes.
Degree of the burn – the degree of the burn is important because it could cause infection of exposed tissues and permit invasion of the circulatory system.
Extent of burned surface areas – It is important to know the percentage of the amount of the skin surface involved in the burn. The adult body is divided into regions, each of which represents nine percent of the total body surface. These regions are the head and neck, each upper limb, the chest, the abdomen, the upper back, the lower back and buttocks, the front of each lower limb, and the back of each lower limb. This makes up 99 percent of the human body. The remaining one percent is the genital area. With an infant or small child, more emphasis is placed on the head and trunk.
Age of the patient – This is important because small children and senior citizens usually have more severe reactions to burns and different healing processes.
Pre-existing physical or mental conditions – Patients with respiratory illnesses, heart disorders, diabetes or kidney disease are in greater jeopardy than normally healthy people.
Never apply ointment, grease or butter to the burned area. Applying such products, actually confine the heat of the burn to the skin and do not allow the damaged area to cool. In essence, the skin continues to “simmer.” After the initial trauma of the burn and after it has had sufficient time to cool, it would then be appropriate to put an ointment on the burn. Ointments help prevent infection.
In the event of any burns, call 9-1-1.