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The Most Common Types of Burns

The Most Common Types of Burns

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types of burns

Burns are a prevalent form of wound and require unique care protocols.

According to the American Burn Association, over 486,000 people received treatment for burns in 2011 alone. Burns prove to be especially challenging when it comes to proper wound care treatment. There are several unique causes for burns, and each one has accompanying treatment protocols. But understanding burns is important for all patients, as information can be an effective tool in avoiding and addressing burns of all severity levels. Here are just some of the most common burn types:

The classification system

According to the Stanford University School of Medicine, all burns are classified by their level of severity and necessary treatment measures. The three levels of burns are as follows:

First-degree burns

Generally, these are the most superficial of all burns, usually involving damage to the outermost layer of skin. A mild sunburn is classified as a first degree burn, and symptoms include redness and peeling skin. The treatment for most first-degree burns is relatively simple, and includes the use of lotions or a cold compress.

Second-degree burns 

In a second-degree burn, the damage to the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, is more severe. Depending on the case, the burn can extend to parts of the inner dermis. That’s why these injuries are often called partial burns. Scalding or contact-related injuries most often cause these types of burns. Treatment is noticeably more involved, but generally emphasizes measures like daily cleanings and antibiotics.

Third-degree burns

These are the most intense and severe burns, and generally patients will have dry and blackened skin and experience swelling. That’s because third-degree burns are also called full thickness burns in which the outer and inner dermis have both sustained heavy damage. Third-degree burns require the most care, with regimens involving intravenous fluids, antibiotics and a high-protein diet.

Specific burn types

Of course, the cause of each burn can vary, and there are several causes linked most frequently with burns in both hospitals and clinics.

Thermal burns

According to Medscape, thermal burns are among the most common, affecting some 2 million Americans each year. Thermal burns occur following exposure to a heat sources, like flames, scalding water, hot grease, steam and even the sun (UV rays cause all-too-frequent sunburns). Because of their sheer prevalence, the DermNet New Zealand Trust explained that thermal burns are especially prone to infection, namely strains like pseudomonas aeruginosa and staphylococcus aureus.

Chemical burns

As the U.S. National Library of Medicine pointed out, chemical burns are problematic because exposure isn’t always obvious. Chemicals can also build up on the skin or inside the body, which delays their harmful effects. The Mayo Clinic noted that most people exposed to chemicals will experience a few key signs of shock, like shallow breathing or sudden fainting. Immediate treatment is especially important with these burns given their severity and other side effects.

Electrical burns

Electrical burns, caused by stun guns or lightning, can be quite complex in terms of overall wound care. Though the Mayo Clinic explained that you have to be sure the person is no longer in contact with the electrical source before treatment can begin. These burns almost always involve a hospital visit, as electricity can damage muscle and other internal organs. Though not as common as many thermal or chemical burns, 1 percent of all accidental deaths occur from electricity, according to Medscape.

No matter the type of burn, each wound requires specialized care. That’s why you’ll want to rely on Advanced Tissue during your treatment regimen. As the nation’s leader in the delivery of specialized wound care supplies, Advanced Tissue promptly ships supplies to individuals at home and in long-term care facilities.

Download our FREE Wound Treatment Product Guide for more information on wound care.

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