DESCRIPTIONBurns are injuries to the skin, and sometimes other organs, from contact with heat, radiation, electricity, or chemicals. The skin, underlying tissue, and respiratory system (sometimes) are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care for most first-degree burns.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications for more severe burns.
Hospitalization for all large third-degree burns and some second-degree burns. Special burn centers exist for the worst cases.
Surgery to graft skin over third-degree burns.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFirst-degree burns are limited to the upper skin layer. They produce redness, tenderness, pain, swelling, and slight fever.
Second-degree burns affect deeper skin layers. Symptoms are more severe and include blisters.
Third-degree burns involve all skin layers. Skin is white (appears cooked), and there may be no pain in the initial stages.
Burns are of 3 types:
CAUSESRise in skin temperature from heat sources, such as fire, steam, or electricity.
Tissue injury caused by chemicals or radiation, including sunlight.
RISK FACTORSStress, carelessness, smoking in bed, or excess alcohol consumption, all of which make accidents more likely.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Have your child wear sun-screen lotions outdoors.
Fireproof your home. Install smoke alarms and plan emergency exits.
Have your child wear protective gear and observe safety precautions around heat or radiation.
Remind your child not to touch uncovered electric wires.
Teach children safety rules for matches, fires and electrical outlets.
Discard extension cords with a pronged plug on one end and a bulb socket on the other. These are hazardous.
If you have small children, put safety caps on unused outlets. Discard frayed cords.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood and urine tests, and studies of kidney and liver function (severe burns).
Infection at the burn site.
Shock due to loss of fluids and electrolytes (severe burns).
Vision impairment, if eyes are injured.
Most persons recover if the extent of burns (including third-degree burns) is limited to 50% of the body surface. For less-severe burns, skin usually repairs itself in 1 to 3 weeks.
HOME CAREFor severe burns, see First-aid instructions in the back of this book. For less-severe burns:
Apply non-prescription body lotion to your child to cool first-degree burns.
Immerse your child's small second- or third-degree burn areas in cold water for 10 minutes to reduce pain and swelling.
Keep the child's burn area clean. Soak the child in a tub or use lukewarm compresses once a day. You may add 2 tablespoons of powdered detergent to the tub to help soak off crusting areas. Use plain water for compresses.
Prop the child's burn area higher than the rest of the body, if possible.
You may use dressings on the child's burn.
MEDICATIONTo treat minor burns, use non-prescription antibiotic ointments, topical anesthetics, and aspirin.
To treat severe burns, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, antibiotics, and a tetanus booster shot.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Depends on location and extent of the burn. Ask your doctor.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet for minor burns. More severe burns require intravenous feeding.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has a second- or third-degree burn, or a first-degree burn over a large area.
An infant has a burn, even if it seems minor.
The following occurs during treatment:
-- No healing in 6 days.
-- Chills and fever.
-- Increased pain, redness, swelling, or pus in the burn area.