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Calendar >  Healthy Community Healthy You – Skin burns – Heated Accidents

Healthy Community Healthy You – Skin burns – Heated Accidents

By   /  March 3, 2024  /  No Comments

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough – Most of us have experienced having a burn as a common injury when making food in the kitchen. Burns are most times a household accident and typically the damage to the skin heals and goes away eventually. However, there are varying degrees of burns with some being much more severe than others. There are three degrees of burns which are classified by the damage they cause.

Causes of burns are usually related to unexpected accidents. This could range from having a sunburn to chemical burns, actual fires, electrical burns, and scalding (hot liquids).

Burns can range from first-degree (minor) to third-degree (severe). A first-degree burn doesn’t blister the skin and just causes redness. The top layer of the skin is affected. You might have some inflammation or swelling. The wound typically gets dry, peels, and heals in about 10 days. It may or may not leave a scar depending on how you treat it. You can apply aloe vera gel, lidocaine, or soak the wound in cool water for about 5 minutes. There are also antibiotic ointments. Using ice is not recommended and cotton balls are not good to use either. Ice can make the wound worse because the fibers from the cotton can get caught in the burn.

A second-degree burn does cause blisters and will thicken the skin. It goes past the first layer of skin. The blister can be delicate and sometimes “pop”. Keeping the area clean and covered is recommended. It can take two to three weeks to heal so keeping additional infection out is important to not make the process even longer. Healing time depends on how bad the blister is. Sometimes skin grafting is needed which is when skin from another area of the body (healthy skin) is moved to the burn area. Treatment can include running cool water over the burn for about 15 minutes and using antibiotic creams.

A third-degree burn will look white and really thicken the skin. The worst type of burn is considered fourth degree, and this is when the burn is so deep it reaches the tendons and bones. One might assume that a third-degree burn hurts the most, but sometimes there is nerve damage so there is no pain at all. The burn might look like it is going to going to have blisters, but they don’t form. The skin might turn dark brown and have a leathery texture. It could also look white and waxy in texture. Healing time varies and severe scarring is likely to occur. Surgery is sometimes needed. A third-degree burn can cause a person to go into shock, can cause blood loss, and pose a high risk of getting
infected.

Whenever possible, reducing the risk for burns occurring should be done by taking precautionary measures. Making sure smoke detectors are changed every 10 years is important and you should test them once a month. The handles of pots should point towards the back of the stove. Keeping children away from hot surfaces, making sure they cannot access lighters or matches, and installing covers for electrical outlets, helps keep them safe. Sunscreen should be worn daily. When using chemicals, you should wear gloves. Cigarettes/cigars should always be put out fully. Making sure bath and shower water are at safe temperatures before immersing in them is important. The water heater at your home should be set under 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The lint from the dryer should be cleaned out regularly.

Our skin is our outer, protective layer, and it is put at risk all day, every day. Accidents happen and we want to avoid life-changing harm and injury that can leave permanent damage. Burns usually take place in dangerous situations that we want to avoid touching or feeling without protective measures in place. Burns come without notice but let’s take notice of what we can do to keep them away.

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