According to the American Burn Association, 2016 saw 486,000 instances of people seeking medical treatment for burn injuries. There were 3,275 occurrences of deaths by fire or smoke inhalation. Lastly, there were approximately 40,000 hospitalizations for burns, with 30,000 of those being treated in specialized Burn Centers.
Types of Burns
It’s easy to forget your skin is a living organ, and it is vulnerable to even short exposures to temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- First Degree Burns – Cause redness and irritation of the skin. The top layer of the skin is affected and the burns will heal quickly with some peeling. Most people have experienced first degree burns when they get a sunburn.
- Second Degree Burns – These damage the second layer of the skin and cause blisters to form. Like first degree burns, they will usually heal on their own with little intervention or scarring.
- Third Degree Burns – These are the most severe type of burn and destroy the skin to it’s full depth. Skin will look visibly charred and damaged. These burns always need medical treatment from a specialist, and will leave extensive scarring. They usually require skin grafts, even if the size of the burn in quite small.
How do burns occur?
The three fourths of burns are accidental, mostly happening to children and the elderly and occurring in the home. The remaining types of burns occur from accidental causes or occupational hazards. Further examples of burn incidents:
- Fireworks, explosives, or natural gas
- Burns sustained from being electrocuted
- Chemical burns from caustic substances
- Appliance malfunctions
- Scalding from hot water or steam
Extensive second degree burns and all third degree burns require medical treatment. When the skin is that damaged, it cannot protect the body from infections. Even minor burns are painful, but severe burns damage the nerves in the skin and are considered among the most painful type of injuries a person can sustain. Extensive burns over a large percentage of the body usually require multiple operations by plastic surgeons in order to repair the skin and keep the scar tissue from immobilizing joints. Badly burned victims often require days to many weeks in intensive care at a hospital.