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Burn Injury Classification and Treatment Options

Burn injuries can be quite common in nursing homes.

Most residents like to use warm water, usually in the dining room or bathroom.

As one can expect, accidents can happen anytime which is why it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what a proper burn treatment plan looks like.

A hot coffee spill may sound trivial but water temperatures at 70 degrees touching the skin for as little as 10 seconds can already inflict damage.

Before starting treatment, it’s crucial to be able to classify the burn injury so you can plan your treatment options well. Burns are classified according to depth and the extent of the injury.

What is a Burn injury?

A burn injury is a damage to the body’s tissue brought about by either heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight, or radiation. Depending on its severity, a major burn may require painful treatment and a long period of rehabilitation. It can cause permanent damage and result in disfiguration, incapacitation, or worse, death.

Burn Injury Classification

First Degree Burn

A first-degree burn is considered superficial where the epidermis is kept intact and remains without blisters. It results in localized pain and redness with the healing usually lasting between 5 to 10 days.

Second Degree Burn

A second-degree burn, on the other hand, is considered partial thickness. They are wet and shiny, with the surface weeping with blisters. The wound tends to blanch when pressure is applied.

Third Degree Burn

Third-degree burns are considered the most severe at full thickness. It indicates the destruction of the entire epidermis and dermis which typically include fat and muscles. Its color may vary and can either be black, brown, deep red or white. Its surface is dry and no blanching is noticed when pressure is applied. This type of injury may require skin grafting and may take a lot longer to heal.

Treatment Options

Cool Burn

This is done by holding the burned area of the skin under cool (not cold) running water. You can also immerse the burned part in cool water until the pain is gone. Should there be no access to running water, compresses can be an alternative. This method can be used for both first and second-degree burns. It’s important to take note, however, not to apply ice and to never break blisters because both can cause further damage.

Protect the Wound

Cover the wound with a clean, non-adhesive bandage or cloth, making sure not to apply butter, creams, lotions, and oil. Use a petroleum-based ointment twice or thrice a day instead. Do this for all three burn types to avoid infection.

Treat the Pain

It is equally important to manage the pain brought about by the injury. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen are most recommended.

It’s important to understand that the above treatments are considered first aid treatments. It’s still recommended to get immediate medical assistance from a doctor who can competently assess the wound and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Final Thoughts

While prevention is always better than cure, burn accidents can come when you least expect them. It’s essential to know the proper steps to take under such circumstances to make the patient feel comfortable and help heal the wound faster instead of aggravating the situation.

Before you start treating the burned area, make sure to identify which burn classification they belong to so you can administer the treatment that’s right for it.

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