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Burn Injuries: What you should know

Burns are some of the most serious and painful injuries a person can endure. In traumatic burn cases, permanent scarring and the loss of facial features, fingers and toes can occur. A scar from a severe burn can take up to two years to heal before cosmetic surgery can begin. Thousands of people suffer from serious burn injuries caused from accidents at both work and home. According to the American Burn Association, in 2016 there were 486,000 burn injuries necessitating medical treatment.

Types of Burns

Burn injuries are extremely painful and they are classified by depth. There are four categories of burn injuries:

First-Degree Burn- A first degree burn usually affects the outer layer of the skin. This outer layer is called the epidermis. A first-degree burn can cause pain, redness and swelling. These burns usually resolve within a week. A common example of a first-degree burn is a mild sunburn. While more of an inconvenience than an actual injury, you may still want a medical professional to examine it to prevent infection. Otherwise it will heal within a few days on its own.

Second-Degree Burn- A second degree burn, or partial thickness burn, is when the first layer of the skin has been burned through to the second layer of the skin, called the dermis. Blisters develop with second-degree burns and the skin takes on a deep red appearance. Second-degree burns produce severe pain and swelling. Second-degree burns can occur when contact is made with scalding liquids, hot surfaces, open flames, or a brief exposure to electrical arcing flash explosions. Second-degree burns require medical attention to prevent infection. Healing time is between two to three weeks. The burned area sometimes scars after healing.

Third-Degree Burn- A third-degree burn destroys the first (epidermis) and the second (dermis) layer of skin and extends down to the third layer of the skin called the subcutaneous. Skin with a third-degree burn may appear white or black and leathery on the surface. The nerve endings in the skin may be destroyed, and therefore may not be painful. However, the area around the burn may be extremely painful. A third-degree burn is a very severe type of burn and the pain may cause breathing problems and increase pulse rate. A third-degree burn needs immediate medical attention. Usually, surgery will remove the burned tissues. There can also be severe scarring and disfigurement. There is no way to estimate the painful healing time needed for this type of burn and there is a high risk of infection.

Fourth-Degree Burn- A fourth-degree burn goes through all layers of the skin and down into the subcutaneous tissue. This type of burn is extremely serious and can damage bones, muscles, tendons/ligaments, or organs. There is usually a complete lack of sensation due to the destruction of all the nerve endings in the affected areas. The patient will require surgery and extensive medical treatment. Also, severe disfigurement may result.

Causes of Burns

Chemical Burn- A chemical burn occurs when the skin is in contact with strong acids or alkaloids. The chemical will continue to burn its way through the skin and deeper layers until it is washed away. It is important to wash the chemical off the skin as soon as possible and remove clothing and jewelry that may have the chemical on it. Examples of household chemicals that can cause burns include bleach, paint thinner, and plumbing products such as Drano or Liquid Plumber. Chemical burns can also occur in the workplace.

Electrical Burn- An electrical burn can occur when a current jumps from an electrical outlet, cord or appliance and passes through your body. The electricity can burn the skin and may also cause internal damage. There are a number of ways in which someone can get an electrical burn. The most common causes are sticking a knife into a plugged toaster, dropping a plugged-in appliance into water, sucking or chewing on an electrical cord, and sticking something into an electrical outlet.

Scald Burn- Scald burns are injuries caused by hot liquids or steam. Hot liquids, not fire, are the most common cause of burns to young children. Hot water can quickly cause serious, painful scald burns.

Thermal Burn- Thermal burns are caused by contact with flames, steam, hot liquids, or hot objects. An example would be a burn on a curling iron. Although many thermal burns occur at home, they are also common with roofers and construction workers, when they come into contact with tar and asphalt.

Injuries After a Burn

In addition to the scarring itself, a burn survivor may suffer from additional injuries such as: physical and emotional trauma, disfigurement, organ damage, body chemistry damage and sensitivity to temperature change. There are many factors to consider when someone suffers a burn injury, such as the source of the burn, its location, the degree of the burn, the victim's medical history, and the age of the victim. Some burn injuries can threaten the respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems, as well. Burn injury victims commonly experience emotional and physical trauma.

Each case is unique and must be considered separately, but if you are a burn injury victim, we encourage you to contact one of our attorneys at Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. Contract our team today at (212) 514-5007 for your free and confidential case review.

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