Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Burn injuries can lead to long-term problems

Many different kinds of accidents can lead to a victim suffering a burn. No matter how it occurs, the severity of the burn helps to determine what treatments are necessary and what effect the injury might have on the victim's life.

Burns can result from car accidents, house fires, fire pit accidents, explosions and other serious events. Here is some important information you should know about burn injuries.

Burns are classified by degrees

There are four degrees of burns, with the first degree being the least serious and the fourth degree being the most serious.

A first degree burn affects only the outer layer of skin. You might feel some pain and the area will likely look red.

A second degree burn includes the second layer of the skin. These burns are painful and can produce blisters.

A third degree burn damages both skin layers and the underlying structures like muscles, tendons and bones. You probably won't feel much pain because the nerve endings in the area are destroyed.

Fourth degree burns look charred and the tissue feels very stiff. These burns impact skin, subcutaneous fat, bones and muscles.

A dangerous risk

One of the biggest things to worry about when you have a burn is the risk of infection. Because burn wounds may be open and oozing fluid, there is a chance that infection can set in. The appearance and pain of a burn makes it difficult to discern when an infection is present so it is crucial to actively monitor the area for signs of infection.

Intensive treatments

Many burns, especially third degree and fourth degree burns, require significant medical treatment and often hospitalization. Sometimes patients need skin grafts to replace damaged skin.

Debridement, the removal of dead or unhealthy tissue, is necessary during the healing process for many burns. Some patients will need to have a tetanus shot, and almost all patients who need medical care for a burn will require medications for pain relief or infection prevention.

The prognosis

The prognosis for burn victims depends on the location, severity and healing process. More than 10,000 Americans die because of burn-related infections each year. Scarring is one of the issues that many burn victims have to deal with. They may also have to live with a compromised immune system and other long-term problems. Less serious burns usually don't have any lasting impacts, but they may leave behind light scars.

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