What is Burns?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


They refer to tissue injury caused by fire, heat, sunlight, chemicals, or electric shock. They may be minor injuries or require immediate medical attention depending on their depth and extent.

Typically, a burn is caused by:

  • Electric shocks.
  • Sun exposure or other types of ultraviolet radiation.
  • Fire.
  • Steam.
  • Hot liquids
  • Contact with hot objects.
  • Radiation.
  • Abrasive chemicals.


Burns are usually divided into:

  • First degree: they are superficial, injuring only the epidermis, causing pain, redness, and inflammation.
  • Second degree: they affect the epidermis and the dermis, causing blisters, intense pain in the area, inflammation and reddish, depigmented, or blotchy skin. If it is a deep burn, it is very likely that there will be a scar.
  • Third degree: they destroy the layers of the skin, reaching the adipose tissue located below them, leaving a whitish, dark, or blackened appearance. These types of burns tend to destroy nerves, causing numbness.

Signs and symptoms Burns

Symptoms vary according to the skin lesions degree, which may include:

  • Blisters.
  • Intense pain, although in deeper burns it may not occur.
  • Loss of skin layers.
  • Shock.
  • Inflammation.
  • Depigmented, reddish, or charred skin.

There may be burns in the respiratory tract in case of the following signs:

  • Mouth and lips burned.
  • Changes in vocal tone. 
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Dark mucus, with carbon particles.
  • Facial burns.
  • Noises and wheezing when breathing.
  • Severe coughing fits.

A person can have several types of burns simultaneously, being the third degree burns the ones that require immediate medical attention to avoid disability, deformations, and life-threatening complications.

Children under four years old and older adults are at higher risk for serious burn complications, since the skin is thinner in both cases.

Diagnosis and treatment Burns

After observing the injuries and symptoms, your doctor will order laboratory studies, X-rays, and diagnostic tests. If deemed necessary, you should be transferred to a specialized burn center.

Treatment will depend on the location and severity of the injuries. If it is a minor burn, it can be treated at home and heal in a couple of weeks. While severe burns may include medications, wound dressings, psychological therapy, physical therapy, and plastic surgery to graft skin, improve the scars appearance, and increase flexibility of the affected joints.

Potential risks:

  • Scars.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Hypovolemia.
  • Bacterial infections that can cause septicemia.
  • Respiratory, bone, or joint problems.

In ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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