Sunday, October 12, 2008


Burns and scalds are caused by contact with hot objects, naked flames, heat radiation, hot vapors and liquids, and by contact with electric current. Burns cause deep tissue damage on varying degrees.

The severity of the damage depends on the extent of the area affected (percent of the body surface, the palm presents 1%), the depth (degree of burn), the age (risk of shock in children 5 percent and more, in adults 10 percent and more), the state of health, the presence of any additional injuries, and in general also on type, length and the location of the contact with heat, and temperature involved.

Symptoms and Signs

The degree of the burn can never be assessed at first sight, as symptom develop only gradually. Burns are classified as follows:

First degree: reddening, swelling, pain

Second degree: Blister formation

  • Superficial burns: intense pain
  • Deep burns: little pain, only sensation of tenseness

Third degree:

  • Eschar formation
  • Charring


Three possible complications threaten the casualty’s life:

Shock: Circulation failure within a few hours.

In extensive burns blood plasma escapes from the blood stream into the tissue. The loss of plasma leads (like severe blood loss to shock, enhanced by the pain from the burn.

Clinical Features: The severity of the burn does not only depend on the extent of tissue damage. The consequences of shock from the burn injuries and the overall constitutional upset caused by the burn are far more dangerous. Kidney and lung function might be impaired or fail altogether.

Infection: Germ invasion of the burnt area results in life-threatening infection and delays healing, and might even cause a tetanus infection.

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