Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Burns and scalps

A burn is an injury caused by:

a. Dry heat, such as fire, a piece of hot metal or the sun.
b. Contact with any object charged with a high tension electric current; or by lightning.
c. Friction, for example, by contact with a revolving wheel (brush burn) or fast-moving rope or wire.
d. Corrosive chemicals:
(i) Acids, such as sulphuric, nitric and hydrochloric.
(ii) Alkalis, such as caustic soda, caustic potash, strong ammonia or quicklime.

A scald is an injury caused by moist heat, such as boiling water, steam, improperly applied poultice, hot oil or tar. The effects of a burn or scald are the same. There may be reddening of the skin or blister formation or destruction of the skin or deeper tissues. Pain is very severe in second degree burns.

Degree of Burns
First degree burns: There is only reddening of skin without damage to deeper tissues.
Second degree burns: Second degree burns often result in vesication and exposure of nerve endings and are most painful in nature.
Third degree burns: Here even the nerves are burned off. These burns are not painful, but life threatening as they inevitably cause shock.

The dangers of a burn increase with its surface area (even if it is only superficial) and if one-third or more of skin area is involved, the condition of the patient can be described as critical. In small children and especially in infants, even small burns should be regarded as serious injuries and medical aid sought without delay.

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