A burn injury is any injury to the skin caused by heat, chemical exposure, friction or electricity. Most burns only affect the skin, although deeper tissue damage can occur in severe burns. They can cause disfiguring and disabling scaring as well as shock, infection, electrolyte imbalance, respiratory distress and even multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. Large burns can be fatal; in fact, burn injuries are directly responsible for more than 300,000 deaths worldwide each year. They can be very serious, and often require immediate medical attention.

Burn injuries are typically and traditionally classified into first-, second- and third-degree burns. First-degree burns usually are limited to redness of the skin along with minor pain. Second-degree burns manifest as redness of the skin along with blistering. They can be more or less painful than first-degree burns, depending on the level of nerve involvement. Second-degree burns may involve deeper tissue damage, which can take as long as three weeks to heal. Third-degree burns occur when the epidermis is lost and there is significant damage to the deeper tissue. These very serious burns result in scarring, and may require a skin graft.

The treatment of a burn injury depends on the severity of the burn as well as the cause of the injury. However, regardless of the cause or severity of the injury, the first step in performing first aid on a burn victim is to stop the burning process at its source and cool the burn wound. In most cases, this is as simple as rinsing the wound with clean water. But with chemical burns, the first step should always be to remove the chemical causing the burn. Large burns should never be exposed to cold water for longer than 20 minutes, as it could result in hypothermia. Ice and greasy substances such as butter also should be avoided. Large second- and third-degree burns may require surgery and skin grafts as well as antibiotic treatment in order to avoid infection.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious burn injury as a result of another’s negligence, a faulty or dangerous product or while at work, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe. We can help.