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Burn injuries: What to expect

As a victim of a burn injury, it's important that you know what's coming next. Your health and safety in the future requires that you fully understand the severity of your injuries and how they've affected your body.

In 2016, there were a reported 40,000 hospitalizations related to burn injuries in the United States. At least 30,000 resulted in stays at hospital burn centers. These facilities are designed to treat those with acute injuries.

What are some common causes of burns?

Common causes of burns include exposure to flames or fire, scalding, electrocution, chemical exposure and contact (friction). The majority of cases do happen at home, but around 8 percent of the above admissions were a result of workplace injuries or accidents.

What kinds of burns can people suffer?

Burns are broken down into three primary levels, first-, second- and third-degree burns. A first-degree burn is considered mild, and it may require treatment for pain or damage to the epidermis. Comparatively, second-degree burns result in blisters, swelling, redness and pain. They involve the dermis and epidermis. Third-degree burns are the most significant, and they cause damage to deeper tissues like muscles and ligaments. It's common to see white or blackened areas of the body, charred skin and skin that may be numb due to nerve death.

What symptoms will burn victims notice?

The symptoms you'll notice will vary based on the severity of the burn. Some common symptoms include:

  • Blisters
  • Peeling skin
  • Red skin
  • Shock
  • Charred skin
  • White skin
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Not having pain does not necessarily mean that the burn is not significant. In some instances, the most severe burns have no pain at all, while minor burns hurt badly.

What should victims expect after a burn?

After a burn, immediate medical treatment is a necessity. The type of treatment you receive will depend on the burn's severity and the cause. Minor burns are typically treated with aloe vera or over-the-counter pain medications, while second-degree burns may require antibiotics and ointments available only by prescription. With acute burns, skin grafting and synthetic skin might be used to replace damaged tissues. Burns that cover large parts of the body may require intravenous antibiotics to prevent opportunistic infections. Patients may require IV fluids and skin grafting as well.

Regardless of how a burn feels, if it appears blistered or the skin is open, a medical exam is a necessity. Burns can absolutely become catastrophic injuries, so prompt care is necessary.

People who have suffered burns as the result of corporate negligence may be entitled to claim compensation. Workers who have suffered burns while working may be entitled to claim workers' compensation benefits. In either case, they should contact an attorney to learn about their legal options.

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