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What is it?

A burn is a type of skin injury caused by different external factors such as heat, electricity, sun or radiation.

Types

Depending on the depth of the burn, we can differentiate between:

  • First degree burns: affect the most superficial layer of skin, the epidermis.
  • Second degree burns: they involve the outer layer and the underlying layer of the skin, that is, they destroy the epidermal layer and arrive to the dermis.
  • Third degree burns: destroy the deeper layers of the skin and the tissues underneath it.

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According to the affected body surface we can differentiate between:

  • Minor burn: doesn’t exceed 10% of the total area
  • Moderate burn: the surface is between 10 and 20% of the total surface of the body.
  • Severe burn: exceeds 20%

A quick way to calculate the burned body surface in adults is the well-known Rule of 9, which consists of knowing the proportions that correspond to each of the parts of the body.

Who does it affect?

Anyone can get burned. Watch for children and the elderly because they have thinner skin and the complications can be worse.

Cause

There are several direct or indirect factors that can cause a burn in the skin:

  • Sun
  • Liquids or hot surfaces
  • Extremely cold objects or items
  • Firecrackers
  • Fire
  • Electrical contact
  • Chemical products

Symptomatology

Burns may cause:

First grade:

  • Hot
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Redness

Second grade:

  • Much pain
  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Ampoules
  • They can affect the sweat glands and hair follicles.

Third grade:

  • Whitish, dark or charred skin.
  • Massive inflammation
  • Non-painful: nerve endings are affected
  • Sleeping skin

Treatment

The first reaction to take into account is to quickly eliminate the source of the burn and carefully remove any type of clothing that is not attached to the skin to prevent the lesion from spreading in extension and/or depth.

The objectives of treatment are:

  • Reduce pain
  • Reduce pollution and prevent possible infection
  • Achieve fast healing and minimal scarring

The steps to follow a mild burn are:

  1. Cool the area with saline or water
  2. Clean affected area
  3. Don’t burst the blisters because preserving moisture from the surface of the wound accelerates healing and reduces the risk of infection.
  4. Apply a water-soluble antiseptic cream or a hydrocolloid dressing
  5. Cover the burn to prevent contamination
  6. Track the wound by a specialist.

In the case of second and third degree burns it is necessary to be treated by a specialist as it may be necessary to perform a debridement and a skin graft or other alternative treatments and in certain cases amputations.

Burn scars

Second and third degree burns often leave scars because apart from affecting the skin, they affect the hair follicles and glands. Most of these scars tend to evolve towards keloid or hypertrophic scar.

According to the evolution of the burn, color, extension and symptomatology will choose one or another treatment. It’s recommended to start with cryotherapy and infiltration of corticosteroids and continue with a combination of lasers to achieve aesthetic and functional improvements.

  • Cryotherapy: with the application of liquid nitrogen an anti-inflammatory effect is achieved and the thickness of the scars is reduced.
  • Corticosteroid injections: it’s possible to improve the elasticity of the scar, to reduce its volume and to improve the pruritus.
  • Lasers: from de sixth month after the scar has occurred it is recommended to start with the combination of different lasers to achieve excellent results. It’s recommended:
    • Vascular laser: it’s applied to minimize the red-violet coloration that the scars acquire.
    • Fractional laser: softens and flattens the surface.
    • Laser pigmentation: improve pigmentation of the scar