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Frequently Asked Questions
How are burns caused?
Burns occur when heat from any source- hot liquids ( scalds ), hot solids, flames, ultraviolet radiation ( sun burn ) or radioactivity, electricity and chemicals destroy some or all of the different layers of cells which form the human skin. Respiratory insults resulting from smoke inhalation are also burn injuries.
What determines the severity of burn?
It depends on the depth the heat has penetrated which will depend on the temperature of the burning agent and the duration of exposure. Also on the surface area of the burn, the body region involved and the age and previous health condition of the patient. Even small burns can be very serious in children. Electric burns are usually very deep burns. Smoke burns can cause severe respiratory insufficiency.
What are the first aid procedures?
First remove the heat source, look for associated trauma and remove the non-sticking garments. Cool the burn with cool, clean water as soon as possible. Cool water eases the pain, removes the heat and lowers the temperature of the injured tissue therefore minimizing further injury. Cooling can be effective for 30 to 60 minutes after injury. Then wrap the wound in a clean towel and take the patient to the hospital.
What are the problems related to burns?
Large burns cause shock because of the loss of body fluids and infection because the protective covering of the skin is lost and the body immunity is lowered. If the burn wound is allowed to heal without intervention then the skin heals with contraction thus forming contractures which can lead to serious deformity and disability if overlying a joint or other vital areas of the body, besides being cosmetically very demoralizing for the patient.
How are burns managed?
The initial management involves resuscitaton for shock, taking care of the fluid balance, relieving pain and preventing infection. The long term management involves preventing the formation of contractures. These days early skin grafting can be done within the first week if the patient is stable. Skin grafting involves taking skin from the healthy areas of the body and putting it over the wound. The skin is the best dressing for the wound. It reduces the chances of getting an infection and prevents the formation of contractures.
How can burns be prevented?
The most important thing regarding burn injuries is that 95% of them are accidental and can be prevented with care and precautions. Public places and factories etc. should install proper fire alarms and fire firefighting equipment and should be built keeping the fire safety norms in mind. At home extreme care should be taken while working in the kitchen and children should not be allowed to play there.
Diwali is a festival of lights and happiness and that is what it should be. Playing with firecrackers specially the big ones should be avoided. All firecrackers should be lighted in a an open area and a bucket of water should always be kept nearby. Children should be supervised at all times. Anars should never be lit while in the hand as they can burst and a large number of burns at Diwali are associated with them.