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Burns 3rd Degree

Third degree burns are considered the most serious types of burns and causes critical injury to the skin tissues and destroy all the layers of the skin. Common causes for 3rd degree burn include flames, electricity, contact with corrosive chemicals, extremely hot objects, clothing that catches fire and immersion of body in extremely hot water. Burns 3rd degree destroys the nerve endings in the skin, due to this reason the area that is burned may not be painful but the victim may experience severe pain in the surrounding areas.

The burnt skin often looks black, white and leathery on the surface; some areas may look blistered or appear bright red. A 3rd degree burn is so severe that it can also damage muscle, fat and bone in the body.

Electrical burns can interrupt with the normal rhythm of the heart, make a person stop breathe and damage the deep tissues. Third degree burns can cause excess fluid loss from the body which can cause a person go into shock. A person is exposed to large amount of smoke when burned in fire and may also complain chest pain, cough and red, burning eyes. Severity of burn is assessed by the percentage of total body surface area (BSA) affected. A 3rd degree burn is considered minor if the burn cover less than 2% of BSA; is considered moderate when the burn cover 2-10% BSA and is considered critical when the burn cover more than 10% BSA along with burn on face, feet, hands or genitals.

Weather minor, moderate or critical, all the third degree burns require immediate medical attention. Minor 3rd degree burns can be taken care of in a specialist’s clinic but moderate and critical burns require hospitalization. Replacement of fluid is essential for hospitalized patients as the body loses great deal of fluid through burned areas. Compensation of fluids is done through intravenous line, tube placed directly in the vein. If breathing is difficult or if the lungs are damaged then to help breathing a tube is inserted in the throat. To protect the burned area from infection, a patient may need to put on antibiotics as well as pain medications to relieve pain. For severe burns a patient is sometimes also put in a special room filled with pure oxygen called hyperbaric chamber. After cleaning the burned areas, antibiotic cream is applied and then covered carefully with sterile bandages. The bandages are changed frequently and dead tissue around is removed with a surgical method called debridement. The burned area is carefully monitored to prevent any infection. A thick, scabbed surface called Escher covers the burn area as the burn skin starts healing; this layer makes the blood flow difficult to injured area. Eschartomy is a procedure used to remove Escher and allow blood flow to the healthy tissues underneath.  Extensive scars are often a result of severe 3rd degree burns as the wound is very deep, for this skin grafting is often performed to cover the burned area. A healthy skin form other unburned area of the body is taken to transplant permanently on the burned area. This process is called autograft. Another process called allograft (healthy skin from other human donor) is used when the patient’s own skin cannot be used.

Severe burns may require weeks to months of hospital treatment to minimize scarring along with physical therapy to restore movement in the burned areas.

Submitted on January 16, 2014