About Third-Degree Burns
Among all the degrees of burns, the severest is the third-degree burn, which is sometimes referred to as “full thickness burn”. Third degree burns extend through two full layers of the skin and cause the most damage. Like in first degree and second-degree burns, the skin instead of turning red, may appear white, black, brown or yellow.
The Pain from Third-Degree Burns
Though third-degree burns cause the most severe damage, they may not be very painful, as many of us think that they are most painful, since damage is so extensive, but in actuality due to nerve damage third-degree burns, there may not be that much pain.
Causes of Third-Degree Burns
The most common cause of Third-Degree Burns is direct and continuous heat exposure, such as contact with flames or hot objects like iron, tar, a skillet, fireworks or cigarettes.
Other causes of a third degree burn consist of: Harsh chemicals (car battery acid, cleaning products and gasoline); steam or hot water; damaged electrical outlets/ electrical cords and lightning.
Symptoms of Third-Degree Burns
The symptoms of third-degree burns are raised and leathery in texture, waxy and white color, blisters that are char and dark brown color.
These third-degree wounds heal with contracture and severe scarring without surgery. It is advisable not to treat a third-degree burn on your own. Immediately seek medical help by calling the emergency medical care numbers. Raise the injured or burnt part above your heart while you are waiting to be treated. Make sure that no clothing or any other material is stuck to the burnt part and do not try to get undressed.
Complications Due To Third-Degree Burns
The third-degree burns carry the most risk for complications compared to first-degree and second-degree burns. The complications from third-degree burns include: infections, shock and blood loss, which may sometimes lead to death. Like all the kinds of burns, the third-degree burns also carry the risk of infections because bacteria can enter the broken skin.
Tetanus, a bacterial infection is a possible complication with third degree burns like all degrees of burns. Tetanus affects nervous system, leading to problems with muscle contractions. Generalized rule is that every individual in the family should receive tetanus injections every 10 years to prevent this type of infection.
- Hypothermia and Hypovolemia: Third-degree burns may carry the risk of hypothermia characterized by dangerously low body temperatures and hypovolemia characterized by low blood volume. These conditions are actually prompted by excessive loss of body heat and too much loss of blood from an injury or burnt part.
- Treatment for Third-Degree Burns
- The particular treatment for a third-degree burn will be decided upon by your family doctor based on the extent of the burn, which body part is burnt, age of the patient, medical history, patient’s general health and cause of the burn.
- Cleaning and Debridement: The treatment for third-degree burns may consist of cleaning and excising dead tissue and skin from the burnt region, intravenous fluids that have electrolytes and antibiotics are also administered.
- Oral and IV Antibiotics: Antibiotics will be administered if an infection has developed due to the third-degree burns. Apart from IV administration, oral antibiotics may be prescribed by the doctor. A humid and warm environment for the burn is congenial.
- Diet and Supplements: The doctor may ask you to take protein rich diet and nutritional supplements.
- Over-the-counter pain medications may be prescribed if the pain is severe.
- Skin Grafting: In some cases of third-degree burns, for complete healing of the wounded area, skin grafting may be needed. Depending upon the choice of the patient, it can be cosmetic and functional reconstruction of the burnt region.
Prevention of All Types of Burns
While certain occupations put an individual at higher risk for burns, it is to note that young children and infants are the most vulnerable category for burns. The best way to fight for it is to prevent the burns from happening. Some of the ways to prevent burns are enlisted below:
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy in your home.
- Do not allow children to enter in the kitchen while you are cooking.
- While cooking, turn handles of utensils on stove towards the back of the stove.
- Smoke detectors should be inspected regularly and replace them when a defect is noticed.
- Adjust the water heater temperature below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, as the temperatures are set to much higher degrees when they are purchased from the market.
- Frequently check the electrical cords and discard cords with exposed wires.
- Wear gloves while handling chemicals and keep them away from the reach of children.
- Avoid going during peak sunlight hours and put on the sunscreen lotion when exposed to sun.
Recovery from Third-Degree Burns
Extensive damage from severe third-degree burns can lead to problems in deep skin tissues, organs and bones. The patient may require physical therapy, surgery, rehabilitation programs and lifelong assisted care.
Apart from the physical damage caused by third-degree burns, the patient may sometimes get emotionally disturbed, hence do not hesitate to seek counselling. There are number of support groups on the internet for people who have experienced severe burns. Find out suitable support group in your area and join them.
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