Burns Care

A burn is an injury to the skin or other organic tissue primarily caused by heat or due to radiation, radioactivity, electricity, friction or contact with chemicals. Skin injuries due to ultraviolet radiation, radioactivity, electricity or chemicals, as well as respiratory damage resulting from smoke inhalation, are also considered to be burns.

In addition to those who die, millions more are left with lifelong disabilities and disfigurements, often with resulting stigma and rejection.


Globally, burns are a serious public health problem. An estimated 195 000 deaths occur each year from fires alone.

Fire-related deaths alone rank among the 15 leading causes of death among children and young adults 5-29 years.

Over 95% of fatal fire-related burns occur in low- and middle-income countries. South-East Asia alone accounts for just over one-half of the total number of fire-related deaths worldwide and females in this region have the highest fire-related burn mortality rates globally. Among the various age groups, children under 5 years and older people (i.e. those aged over 70 years) have the highest fire-related burn mortality rates.


  • Wood stoves, exposed heating sources, or electrical cords
  • Unsafe storage of flammable or caustic materials
  • Careless smoking
  • Child abuse
  • Hot water heater set above 130 °F
  • Heated foods and containers

Measures to Prevent Burns

  • Keep pot handles turned away from the edges of the stove. If possible, cook on the back burners.
  • Coil appliance cords (irons, coffee pots, and crock pots) away from the edge of the counter as your child can grab the cords and pull hot food down on themselves.
  • Keep your children safe by creating a “no zone” in your kitchen while cooking.
  • Do not eat or drink hot food while holding small children on your lap
  • Do not use tablecloths around small children as they can pull on them and hot food can spill on the child.
  • Never let children remove food or drinks from the microware, always do it for them.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher available and in proper working order.
  • Contain grease fires with baking soda or flour- not water.

Measures to Prevent Burns

Matches and lighters should be kept in a high, locked cupboard.

Teach your child that these objects are not toys and discuss fire hazards with your child.

Place floor heaters at least 4 feet away from furniture, curtains, and bedding.

Never place anything on top of an electrical heater or heater vent.

Test smoke detectors monthly and change batteries every six months (a good reminder is when the time changes).

Change your smoke detector every 8-10 years.

Develop an evacuation plan and practice monthly with your children. Establish a safe meeting place outside the home.

Keep a fire extinguisher available and in proper working order in the kitchen and garage.


Gasoline is only to be used for combustible engines.

Do not clean with gasoline.

Do not use gasoline to start fires, woodstoves or barbeques.

Store gasoline and other flammable liquids out of the reach of children.


Sunburn and sun exposure should not be taken lightly. Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes You can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day


Apply cool baths or compresses for 10-15 minutes several times a day

An over the counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be helpful

Call the doctor for extremely painful sunburn, fever over 101, and sunburn in an infant less than 1, or multiple blisters Moisturize effected areas liberally and often with lotion

Do not apply petroleum jelly, ointments or butter to the sunburn. They make the symptoms worse and do not allow air to assist in healing

Do not wash burned skin with harsh soap

Drink extra fluids to prevent dehydration, avoiding alcohol & caffeine


Heat exhaustion results from spending too much time in the heat, even when not directly in the sun, like in a hot car or house

Heat stroke is caused by overexposure to direct sunlight, with or without physical activity and is considered a medical emergency


Scald injuries are painful and require prolonged treatment

Can result in lifetime scarring and even death.

Prevention is always preferable to treatment and can be accomplished through simple changes in behavior and the home environment.

Can happen to anyone, but young children, older adults and people with disabilities are more at risk

Most happen in the house & are in connection with cooking or serving hot food or beverages. Scalds are also caused from hot tap water in bathtubs and showers


If you smoke, do not smoke in bed or in any residential building

Make sure cigarettes are extinguished before leaving a room

Never throw a lit cigarette into bushes or grass, where it could start a fire

Dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of fire fatalities. The incidence of these fatal fires is higher when the person has also been drinking


Electricity is in most homes and can injure someone you love

Check your appliance cords frequently to make sure they are not loose or frayed

Do not overload outlets

Do not place cords under carpets or walkways, wear and tear could damage the cord and cause a fire

Halogen light bulbs emit intense heat, up to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. Bulbs stay hot long after they have been turned off

Do not use electrical appliances in or near showers or bathtubs

Severe weather occurs with little warning, seek shelter or stay inside as soon as you see lightning


If you are burned seriously, you will be admitted to a hospital. There, doctors will concentrate on keeping the burned area clean and removing any dead tissue through a process called debridement. You will receive medications to reduce pain and prevent infection. You will also get a tetanus shot if you have not had one in 5 or more years.

Burns often cause pain and anxiety, even during recovery. You may also experience emotional distress if a burn changes his or your appearance. People with massive burns require early psychological and social support


Antimicrobial ointments (such as silver sulfadiazine, mafenide, silver nitrate, and povidone-iodine) are used to reduce risk of infection. Bacitracin may be used for first-degree burns. One study found that parrafin gauzes are valuable for superficial burns while silver based dressings are preferable for deep burns.

Antibiotics (such as oxacillin, mezlocillin, and gentamicin) are used to treat infection. Antibiotics will also probably be used if the risk of developing infection is high (for example, when the body surface area of the burn is large).

Prescription pain medications (such as acetaminophen with codeine, morphine, or meperidine) are used for severe burns.

Anabolic steroids, such as oxandrolone, may be used for severe burns to help decrease wound healing time


In the case of severe burns, a doctor may perform debridement and skin grafting. Debridement is the removal of dead tissue. In skin grafting, a piece of skin is surgically sewn over the burn after dead tissue is removed. The skin can be from another part of the person’s body, from a donor, or from an animal (usually a pig). Skin grafts from the person’s own body are permanent. Artificial skin may also be used. Cosmetic surgery may be done to improve both the function and appearance of the burned area.