What causes a burn? What are the different types of burn?
Burns are caused by exposure of the skin to a thermal injury. The common sources of thermal injuries are:
- Scalding: Hot water, cooking oil, instant noodles
- Contact: hot water bottle, car exhaust, oven trays
- Overexposure to the sun or other radiation: sunburn, heat lamps, radiators, home heating appliances
- Contact with flames: BBQ, fires in kitchen
- Chemicals or electricity: home power points, electrical cords
- Smoke inhalation: such as a house or kitchen fire
What are some of the most common causes of burns?
The most common burns we see are due to hot water bottles or related to cooking. Hot water scalds are common, but burns from flames are less common.
In the kitchen we see burns from direct contact with hot trays or parts of the oven. Burns also occur from hot oil splashing from pans or inappropriate use of oil.
What does a burn do to your body?
All burns damage the skin. The skin has several layers and the more severe burns to deeper layers are associated with longer healing times and scarring. Burns classification is based on which layer of skin has been burned.
Large burns can also cause more severe problems for the body such as dehydration, shock and infection.
The early management of burns is designed to limit the damage to skin as well as looking after the overall person (pain and fluid management).
How can you avoid sustaining a burn injury?
Prevention is the best way. There are obvious things such as:
- Keeping hot liquids away from small children and taking care in the kitchen when cooking.
- Taking care with hot fluids and ensuring they are placed away from children and away from areas where they could be bumped.
- Understanding that hot water bottles on sensitive skin over time can cause a burn so they should be wrapped in a sheet or not used at all.
- Avoiding using accelerants to help light BBQ’s and taking care when cooking outside can also minimise the risk of injury.