Burn treatments provides medical care to common injuries that can be caused by a variety of factors, including heat, chemicals, electricity, and radiation. While most burns are minor and can be treated at home, more severe burns require professional medical attention to prevent infection and other complications. (1)
Definition and Overview
A burn is a damage to the skin or other tissues that can be caused by heat, cold, electricity, chemicals, friction, or ultraviolet radiation such as sunburn. The majority of burns occur from hot liquids, solids, or fires, commonly known as scalding, and typically happen in the home or workplace. Domestic kitchens pose risks, including stoves, flames, and hot liquids, while in the workplace, there are risks of fire and chemical and electric burns. Risk factors for burns include alcoholism and smoking, and they can also result from self-harm or violence, such as assault. (2)
Burn treatments can vary depending on the severity of the burn. For minor burns, basic first aid is usually sufficient, such as holding the affected area under cool water or applying a cool, damp cloth to the burn to alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Over-the-counter pain relievers and topical ointments may also help with discomfort and promote healing. For more severe burns, medical attention is necessary. In some cases, surgery or physical therapy may be necessary to address scarring and improve mobility.
- Water-based treatments
To remove and renew scar tissue, the medical staff may employ methods like ultrasonic mist therapy.
- Fluids to prevent dehydration
To avoid dehydration and organ failure, patients may require intravenous (IV) fluids.
- Pain and anxiety medications
Burn healing can be excruciatingly painful. Patients could require morphine and anti-anxiety drugs, especially when getting dressed.
- Burn creams and ointments
The care team may choose from a range of topical medications for wound healing if the patient is not being transported to a burn center, including bacitracin and silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene). They aid in avoiding infection and getting the wound ready to heal.
To get the wound ready for healing, the care team may also employ a variety of specialist wound dressings. Only dry gauze will likely be used to cover the wound if a patient is being transported to a burn center.
- Drugs that fight infection
If there is an infection, IV antibiotics are necessary.
- Tetanus shot
After a burn injury, the doctor may recommend a tetanus shot.
Physical and occupational therapy
In cases where the burned area is extensive, especially if it covers joints, physical therapy exercises may be necessary. These exercises are designed to stretch the skin and maintain joint flexibility. Furthermore, specific exercises can enhance muscle strength and coordination. If a patient has difficulty performing their regular daily activities, occupational therapy may be recommended.
Surgical and other procedures
Depending on the extent and severity of the burn, in some cases the patient may need one or more of the following procedures:
- Breathing assistance
- Feeding tube
- Easing blood flow around the wound
- Skin grafts
- Plastic surgery (3)
Anyone who has suffered a burn injury, regardless of the cause or severity, may require burn treatment. Burn injuries can happen to anyone at any age and can be caused by various factors. Babies, children, adults, and elders who have
- chemical burns such as cement, acids, or drain cleaners
- radiation burns,
- electrical burns,
- sun (ultraviolet or UV light) burns
can get burn treatment.(4)
Risks and Side Effects
Burn treatments, like any medical treatment, come with potential risks and side effects. Some of the risks and side effects of burn treatments are:
- Infection: Burn injuries can easily become infected, particularly if the patient has a weakened immune system. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent or treat infections.
- Scarring: Burn injuries often leave scars, which can be particularly severe if the burn is deep. Topical treatments or surgery may be necessary to minimize scarring.
- Pain: Burn injuries can be very painful, and pain management may be required during treatment and recovery.
- Skin graft failure: Skin grafts are often used in burn treatment, and there is a risk of graft failure, which may require additional surgery.
- Loss of mobility: Burns that affect joints or muscles may cause a loss of mobility, which can be addressed with physical therapy but may still have long-term effects.
- Allergic reactions: Some patients may have an allergic reaction to medications or topical treatments used in burn treatment.
It's important to discuss any potential risks and side effects with the healthcare provider before undergoing burn treatment. (5,6)
Post-Procedure and Follow-up
The post-procedure and follow-up process for burn treatments is crucial for the patient's full recovery and to minimize the risk of complications.
Depending on the severity of the burn, patients may need frequent dressing changes to keep the wound clean and prevent infection. Patients may need to continue taking medications such as pain relievers, antibiotics, or topical creams or ointments to promote healing. Patients with extensive burns may need physical therapy to help restore mobility and function to the affected area. Severe burns may need to see a specialist for scar management to minimize scarring and improve the appearance of the affected area. (7)
The recovery process for burn treatments varies depending on the severity of the burn and the treatment received. It typically involves wound care, pain management, scarring treatment, physical therapy, emotional support, and follow-up appointments with healthcare providers to monitor progress. With proper care and treatment, most patients can recover fully and regain their normal daily activities. (8)
The results of burn treatments can vary depending on the severity of the burn and the treatment received. Successful treatment can result in wound healing, pain relief, improved mobility and function, and reduced scarring. The overall outcome depends on the individual's specific condition, adherence to the treatment plan, and the ability to prevent and manage potential complications. (9)