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August 22, 2012

Third Degree Burns to the Fingers

Skin is a sensative organ that has many functions among which is the protection of the body against external harmful enviromental factors. The skin may be damaged when it comes in contact with a hot object. The severity of the burn depends on the intensity of the heat and the duration of time heat is applied.

Hand and finger burns are usually common and are caused by the accidental touch of boiling water or hot objects. Most of these burns are not dangerous but they are of heigh priority becauase of the functional importance of the hand and fingers therefore they have to be treated as soon as possible to avoid serious complications. Burns to the fingers can be first, second or third degree burns.

  • First degree burns are superficial were there is redness and blisters of the skin.
  • Second degree burns are partial thickness skin damage with blisters present.
  • Third degree burns are full thickness skin damage where the skin is leathery and white in color.
  • Fourth degree burns are the same as third degree burns but with damage to deeper structures such as tendons, bones and joints.

What to do if your fingers are exposed to a burn injury:

  • Be calm and hold the fingers under cool water (not cold water) such as putting the fingers under running cool tap water or soak them in water in order to reduce the heat. Avoid treating the burned fingers with ice as this may lead top frost bite.
  • Separate the fingers and cover them with sterile and clean dressing or bandage.
  • If there is pain then use pain medications to relieve pain and swelling. Pain medications are not recommended to be given to children as it may affect their liver.
  • Apply moisturizers or burn ointments to the affected area which will help in keeping the area moist.
  • Keep the burned area elevated to reduce swelling.
  • You can use home remedies to treat simple burns like honey after the skin has cooled down (see Home burn remedies).
Precautions and prevention:
  • Aviod using butter, oil and ice while teating the burned area, butter and oil may prevent heat from escaping the wound leading to elevation of temperature. Ice may lead to frost bite.
  • If the affected area is blackened, completely blistered or the burn spread on more than 2-3 inches in area then you should seek emergency medical treatment as this may indicate a second or a third degree burn.
  • Contact your physician immediatly if there is any signs or symptoms of infection of the burned area like fever, increase redness, increase pain, swelling, tenderness, foul smelling discharge ( see wound infection and Burn wound care at home).
  • You should be careful while handling hot objects that may cause burns.
  • Follow safety measures while using any electrical device, heater or oven.
  • Keep children away from any source that may cause them burn or injury such as hot water, stoves, heaters, electrical cords, fireworks ( see Fire prevention and safety)
  • Water heater temperature should never be set more then 120 degree.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.