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What is Burn?

MVSAT 2024

A burn is a form of tissue injury that can be caused by cold, heat, friction, chemicals, electricity, or ultraviolet radiation (including sunburn) to the skin or any other tissues. The majority of burns are caused by heat from hot liquids, solids, or flames. Although male and female rates are identical, the underlying factors are frequently different. The use of open wood fires or dangerous cookstoves is linked to threat among women in certain regions. Workplace conditions are linked to risk in men. Some risk factors include smoking and alcoholism. Burns may also be caused by self-harm or interpersonal abuse (assault).

Burns which only damage the outer layers of the skin are referred to as first-degree or superficial burns. They look red with no blisters, and the pain continues for three days on average. A second-degree or partial-thickness burn occurs whenever the injury reaches into the surrounding skin layer. Blisters are common, and they can be extremely painful. It may take up to eight weeks for the wound to recover, and scarring might happen. The damage to every layer of the skin is known as a third-degree or full-thickness burn. There has usually been no discomfort, and the higher burn percentage is rigid. Healing does not usually happen by itself. Injuries to deeper tissues, including tendons, muscle, or bone, are also present in a fourth-degree burn. The burn is usually black in colour and results in the loss of the burned portion.

Burn percentage can usually be avoided. The extent of the injury determines the treatment. Significant burns can need extended care in specialist burn centres, while superficial burns can be treated with little more than basic pain medication. Cooling with tap water can help relieve pain and reduce damage, but excessive cooling can lead to a drop in body temperature. Cleaning partial-thickness burns using water and soap, preceded by dressings, might be essential. It's unclear how to treat blisters, however, it's probably best to leave them alone if they're tiny and drain them if they're big.

Burn Percentage Survival Rate Chart:

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Proteins begin to lose their three-dimensional form and break it down at temperatures above 44 °C (111 °F). Cells and tissues are harmed as a result of this. Most of a burn's immediate health effects are caused by a disturbance of the skin's daily functioning.

Disruption of skin sensation, ability to avoid water loss by evaporation, and regulation of body temperature are among them. When cell membranes are disrupted, cells lose potassium to the environment while gaining water and sodium. 

There is a strong inflammatory response in massive burns (with around 30% of total body surface area). This causes increased fluid leakage from the capillaries, resulting in tissue edoema. This results in a reduction of total blood volume, as well as considerable plasma reduction in the existing blood, causing the blood to become more concentrated. Stomach ulcers and Kidney failure might be caused by the poor blood circulation to organs including the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.

Elevated catecholamines and cortisol levels might lead to a hypermetabolic state that lasts for years. Increased metabolism, cardiac activity, a high heart rate, and low immune function are all linked to this.


The depth, injury mechanism, duration, and related injuries can all be used to classify burns. The much more popular classification system is dependent on the severity of the injury. An analysis is commonly used to assess the extent of a burn, but a biopsy can also be used. This might be hard to determine the severity of a burn with a single test, and several tests over several days might be needed. Carbon monoxide poisoning must be known in those that have a headache or are dizzy and have a flame burn. Poisoning with cyanide should then be addressed.

Size: The percentage of total body surface area (TBSA) impacted through the partial thickness or full thickness burns is used to determine the size of a burn. This calculation excludes first-degree burns which are only red in colour and do not blister. The majority of burns (70%) require just under 10% of the TBSA. The Wallace rule of nines, the Lund and Browder map, and approximations dependent on a person's palm-size are all methods for determining the TBSA. The rule of nines is simple to note, but it is only valid for adults over the age of 16. Lund and Browder maps, that take into consideration the various proportions of parts of the body in children and adults, will provide more precise estimates. A person's handprint (palm and fingers) is around 1% of their total body surface area (TBSA).

Severity: The American Burn Association developed a rating scheme to assess a need for more referral to a specialist burn centre. Burns are graded as moderate, major, or minor using this scheme. This is determined by a variety of factors, such as the impacted total body surface area, the presence of particular anatomical zones, the person's age, and any related injuries. 

Minor burns are usually treated at home, while minor burns are treated in a hospital, and severe burns are treated at a burn centre. Among the most damaging types of trauma is a severe burn injury. Despite advancements in burn treatment, patients may suffer for up to three years after a burn injury.

Prevention: In the past, around half of all burns were thought to be avoidable. Burn prevention measures have resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of severe burns. Limiting hot water levels, proper building construction, sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, and fire-resistant clothing are all preventative actions. Experts advise keeping water heaters under 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Splash guards on stoves and the use of a thermometer to determine bathwater temperatures are two other ways to avoid scalds. Although the impact of fireworks legislation is unknown, there is some evidence of gain from recommendations such as prohibiting the selling of fireworks to children.


Intravenous fluids- Boluses of the isotonic crystalloid solution must be provided to someone with weak tissue perfusion. Formal monitoring and fluid resuscitation must be administered to children with 10 – 20 percent TBSA burns and adults with much more than 15 percent TBSA burns. If practicable, this should begin before the patient arrives at the hospital if the burns are more than 25% TBSA.

The Parkland formula can be used to figure out how much intravenous fluid you'll need in the first 24 hours. The formula is dependent on the TBSA and the weight of the person who is affected. The first eight hours are spent administering half of the fluid, and the remaining 16 hours are spent administering the remainder. The time is measured from the start of fluid resuscitation, not from the start of the burn.

Wound care- Quick cooling (in under 30 minutes of the burn) decreases burn depth and pain, but caution is advised since overcooling can cause hypothermia. Coldwater (10–25 °C/50.0–77.0 °F) should be used instead of ice water since the latter will cause more damage. Chemical burns can necessitate a lot of water. Cleaning wounds with soap and water, removing dead tissue, and applying dressings are all crucial steps in wound treatment. If there are intact blisters, it is unclear what should have been done regarding them. Most preliminary evidence suggests that they should be left alone. Within two days, second-degree burns must be re-evaluated.


Burns could be excruciatingly painful, and there are a variety of pain-relieving treatments available. Easy analgesics (including acetaminophen and ibuprofen) and opioids (including morphine) are among them. Anxiety might be treated with benzodiazepines in relation to analgesics. Antihistamines, massage, or transcutaneous nerve stimulation could be used to relieve itching during the process of healing. 

Antihistamines, on the other hand, are just successful in 20% of people for such a reason. There has been some preliminary evidence that supports the use of gabapentin, and it might be appropriate in those that do not react to antihistamines. Further research is required before intravenous lidocaine can be prescribed for pain.


Any wound that requires surgical closure with skin grafts or flaps (usually something larger than a slight full thickness burn) must be treated as soon as possible. Circumferential burns to the limbs or chest might necessitate an escharotomy or surgical release of the skin. This is required to treat or avoid distal circulation and ventilation issues. This is required to treat or avoid distal circulation and ventilation issues. It's unclear whether it'll help with neck or digit burns. Electrical burns can necessitate fasciotomies.

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FAQs on Burn

1. What is the Best Way to Treat Stage 2 Burns?

Ans. Antibiotic creams, as well as other creams and ointments recommended by a doctor, can be used to treat second-degree burns. Third- and fourth-degree burns can necessitate more extensive care, including intravenous (IV) antibiotics to avoid infection or IV fluids to restore fluids lost as a result of the burn.

2. What Percentage of Burns is Fatal?

Ans. According to the National Institutes of Health, burns that cover more than 30% of a person's body can be fatal. If a person's burns cover 10% or more of their body surface area, they should be treated at a specialised burn centre.