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Fire-Burn Death

Thousands of people each year are seriously burned in accidents resulting in long and painful rehabilitation, scars and disfigurement and, in some cases, death.

Definition:  A burn is defined as tissue damage caused by a variety of agents, such as heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight, or nuclear radiation. Most common are burns caused by scalds, building fires, and flammable liquids and gases.   There are three degrees of burns:

  • First-degree burns affect only the outer layer (called the epidermis) of the skin.
  • Second-degree burns damage the epidermis and the layer beneath it (called the dermis).
  • Third-degree burns involve damage or complete destruction of the skin to its full depth and damage to underlying tissues.   People who experience such burns often require skin grafting.

Burn Symptoms and Side Effects:

  • The swelling and blistering characteristic of burns is caused by the loss of fluid from damaged blood vessels.
  • In severe cases, such fluid loss can cause shock, requiring immediate transfusion of the patient with blood or a physiological salt solution to restore adequate fluid levels to maintain blood pressure.  
  • Burns often lead to infection due to damage to the skin's protective barrier. In many cases, topical antibiotics (creams or ointments applied to the skin) can prevent or treat such infection. The three topical antibiotics that are most widely used are silver sulfadiazene cream, mafenide acetate cream, and silver nitrate.

Burns are categorized according to their severity:

  • First-degree burns are minor burns of the first layer of skin.
  • Second-degree burns are superficial partial-thickness burns injuring the first and second layer of skin.
  • Third degree burns are serious burns injuring all the skin layers and tissue underneath.

Severe burn injuries are excruciatingly painful and can result in skin grafting and horrible scars, causing permanent disfigurement.


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