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Burns: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments


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Burns are one of the most common types of injuries, and they can happen in a variety of ways. Whether it’s from accidentally touching a hot stove, getting too much sun exposure, or being involved in a chemical accident, burns can be painful, traumatic, and even life-threatening in some cases. 

But what exactly are burns, and what are the different types and severity levels? How can you prevent them, and what treatments are available? 

Whether you are a healthcare provider, a concerned parent, or someone who has suffered from a burn injury, this article will provide you with valuable insights on how to prevent and manage these injuries effectively. So let’s dive in and learn more about burns!

What Are Burns

Burns are a type of injury that occurs when the skin or other tissues of the body are exposed to extreme heat, cold, electricity, radiation, or chemicals. Burns can range from mild to severe and can cause pain, swelling, blistering, scarring, and even death.

In Australia, burns are a common injury, with approximately 200,000 people seeking treatment for burn injuries every year. According to the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, burns are one of the leading causes of childhood injury and hospitalisation in the country.

Burns are a common and serious injury that can have long-term consequences. It is important to know its common causes to reduce the risk and to know how to provide first aid in the event of a burn injury.

Common Causes Of Burns

Burns can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

Heat sources: The most common cause of burns is exposure to heat sources such as flames, hot surfaces, and steam. Burns from cooking accidents, house fires, and workplace accidents are all examples of heat-related burns.

Hot liquids: Scalds from hot liquids such as water, tea, or coffee can cause burns to the skin.

Chemicals: Exposure to corrosive chemicals such as acids, alkalis, or solvents can cause chemical burns.

Electricity: Electrical burns can occur when the body comes into contact with an electrical current.

Radiation: Exposure to radiation from sources such as the sun or x-rays can cause burns to the skin.

Friction: Friction burns can occur when the skin rubs against a hard surface, such as in a fall or during sports.

Cold: Frostbite is a type of cold burn that occurs when the skin and tissues freeze.

Sun exposure: Sunburn is a type of burn that occurs from overexposure to the sun’s UV rays.

It is important to be aware of potential burn hazards and take precautions to prevent burn injuries. 

Classification Of Burns

Burns are classified into degrees based on their severity and depth of tissue damage. The four degrees of burns are:

First-degree Burns

First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis. Symptoms include redness, pain, and minor swelling. Sunburn is a common example of a first-degree burn.

Second-degree Burns

Second-degree burns affect both the outer layer of skin and the layer beneath, called the dermis. Symptoms include redness, pain, swelling, and blisters that may rupture and ooze fluid.

Third-degree Burns

Third-degree burns are more severe burns that penetrate through the entire thickness of the skin and can damage underlying tissues, such as muscles and bones. Symptoms include white or blackened skin, numbness, and severe pain.

Fourth-degree Burns

Fourth-degree burns are the most severe type of burn that can penetrate deeply into the muscle, tendons, and bones. The skin may appear charred, and the affected area may be numb. Fourth-degree burns require immediate medical attention and can be life-threatening.

Knowing the classification of burns is important because it helps determine the severity of the injury and the appropriate treatment.

Additionally, understanding the classification of burns can help you recognize the signs of a serious burn and know when to seek first aid. Seeking prompt medical attention for serious burns can help prevent complications and improve the chances of a full recovery.

First Aid For Burn Injuries

Here are the general steps for providing first aid for burns:

Stop The Burning Process

If the source of the burn is still in contact with the skin, remove it immediately. Cool the burn with cool (not cold) running water for 20 minutes or until pain subsides.

Remove Clothing Or Jewelry

If the burn is severe, remove any clothing or jewelry that may be restricting circulation before the area begins to swell.

Cover The Burn

Once the burn has cooled, cover it with a sterile, non-stick bandage or clean cloth to prevent infection.

Manage Pain

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.

Seek Medical Attention

Seek further medical help if the burn is deep, covers a large area of the body, is on the face, hands, feet or genitals or if there are signs of infection (such as redness, swelling, and pus).

It is important to note that the above steps are general guidelines for first aid for burns. The specific treatment for a burn will depend on the severity of the injury, the location of the burn, and the age and health of the person affected.

Learn First Aid

Burns can be a painful and dangerous injury, and it is important to know the causes, types, and treatment options. Being prepared with the knowledge of how to provide first aid for burns can help you respond quickly and effectively in the event of an emergency.

At The First Aid Courses Perth, we provide comprehensive and hands-on training in first aid, including the treatment of burns. Our courses are designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to respond confidently and competently in emergency situations. 

We offer a range of courses to suit your needs, including first aid for the workplace, CPR certification, and basic first aid. With our experienced instructors and practical training methods, you can trust that you will be well-prepared to handle any emergency that comes your way.

Sign up for one of our courses today and be prepared to respond confidently and competently in any emergency situation. Visit our website for more information.

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