Caring for a wound is based on the severity of the wound.
Our skin is the first line of defense against microorganisms that can invade the body and cause infection. Once the skin is damaged, microorganisms can enter the body. The goal of treating wounds is to prevent shock, relieve pain and reduce the risk of infection.
First-degree burns (also called superficial burns) do not cause a break in the skin. They present with redness, swelling, tenderness, itching, and dryness. These burns affect the outer skin layer (epidermis) only. There is no blister formation.
Also known as superficial partial-thickness burns affect the epidermis and extend into the dermis layer of the skin. The skin becomes very red, wet and shiny, and painful with blister formation.
The blister is filled with plasma and proteins for healing. This increases the risk of infection. It is important to keep the injury clean and bandaged to prevent infection. Healing takes about 2-3 weeks, longer for larger areas of blistering.
If the burn injury is less than 3 inches in diameter and the blister is intact,
If the burns cover more than 15% of the body make sure the victim is not in contact with a burning or smoldering material.
Also called deep partial-thickness burns to extend through the epidermis and dermis. The depth reaches the reticular region (lowest level of the dermis) which contains hair follicles, sebaceous and sweat glands, cutaneous sensory receptors (nerve), and blood vessels.
These burns cause significant scaring but cause little pain. These burns will appear waxy and white in color. They will look wet but not blister. Skin will look char, dark brown, and leathery. These burns require medical management. Never try to treat these at home.
The dressing should be chosen to protect and maintain the appropriate environment to reduce the risk of infection.
Reduces scar formation and swelling
Reduces tension on wound edges, promoting healing
Use a non-adhesive dressing to protect new granulation tissue
Reduces pain with removal
Also called full-thickness burns extend beyond both the epidermis and dermis layers into the subcutaneous tissue which includes fat, muscle, and bones. Nerve endings are destroyed, these burns are usually painless but along the edges of the burn, the site is burned at various degrees. The surrounding burns are what causes pain.
Again, these wounds need medical burn management and surgical intervention. Calling 911 is appropriate. Treatment of these wounds will be similar to that of third-degree wounds.
Heal time of third- and fourth-degree burns cannot be estimated. Healing is dependent on severity, depth of the burn, and the amount of surface area affected.
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Christine Kijek is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She has completed courses for wound and ostomy specialty and has 20 years of experience. She has been ...
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