Common Treatments for Burns

Burn Treatment

A burn is defined as damage to the skin (and sometimes the underlying tissues) that occurs due to exposure to heat, flame, chemicals, scald, electricity, radiation, steam, oil, or other dangerous substances. There are three categories of defined burn severity: first-, second-, and third-degree burns.

  • A first-degree burn , also called a superficial burn, is most often caused by very short flame exposure or UV radiation (sunburn). This type of burn affects only the outermost layer of skin and does not normally result in a scar.
  • A second-degree burn can be caused by a splash of scalding-hot liquid or short flame exposure. These burns affect the epidermis more deeply and may or may not cause scarring.
  • A third-degree burn is a very serious injury and causes damage to all layers of the skin and will often involve the muscle and bone beneath it. These burns do not heal on their own and will result in scarring.

When a person suffers from a burn injury and seeks medical assistance, the physician will examine the injured area and evaluate the grade of the burn. He or she will then formulate a plan of treatment that depends on the depth and cause of the injury and how much of the body has been affected. Prompt treatment is very important for burn injuries and can decrease the damage done to the skin and other tissues. 

First-degree burns can usually be treated effectively with home care, typically involving cooling the skin with running water and keeping the wound clean to avoid infection. More serious burns, however, should be evaluated by an emergency medical professional. If the burn is diagnosed as being serious, treatment may include the following:

  • Intubation and the administration of oxygen to assist with breathing
  • IV (intravenous) fluids to replace those lost by the burn injury
  • Possible skin graft depending on the burn damage
  • Splints for the joints to help maintain their mobility
  • Physical therapy (if the burn is very serious and covers a wide area)

The Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital is a plastic surgery-based medical center of excellence specializing in the comprehensive treatment of burns – from acute care and reconstruction, to rehabilitation and psychological counseling. For more information, visit our website or contact West Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (818) 676-4000.

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