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Third Degree Burns (Part II)

First aid:

All third degree burns require emergency medical treatment, usually in a burn unit, call 911 or take the person to an emergency room as soon as possible.

  • Smother any flames if the patient is on fire eg, using a blanket, stop drop and roll.
  • Remove jewelry and any clothing if possible.
  • Monitor the victim’s vital signs (breathing, pulse, blood pressure).
  • You have to make sure that the person is breathing, if necessary begin CPR.
  • Cover the burned area with a clean sheet.
  • Elevate the burned area to protect it from pressure and friction.
  • Lay the person flat and elevate the feet to prevent shock unless a head, neck, back or leg injury is suspected.

Don’t do the following:

  • Don’t let the person run if he/she is on fire.
  • Don’t remove the burnt clothes if it is stuck to the burn.
  • Don’t use ice or water because that will further damage the burned area and might cause frost injury.
  • Don’t apply cold compresses or immerse the burn in cold water because this might cause shock.
  • Don’t apply household remedy to the burn because this can interfere with healing.
  • Don’t allow the burn to be contaminated, don’t break blisters if they are present and don’t remove dead skin.
  • If there is an airway burn, don’t place a pillow under the person’s head as this might close the airway when the patient is lying down.

Hospital treatment:

  • Fluid replacement: in third degree burns the body loses a lot of fluid through the burned area, this fluid is lost due the destruction of the skin and the blood vessels and it’s important to replace that fluid to restore blood supply to important organs. Fluid replacement is done in the hospital through an IV line calculated according to the percentage of burn and the weight of the person.
  • Infection control: antibiotics are given in the hospital usually intravenously, in addition to topical antibiotics on the burned area.
  • Wound debridement: cleaning and debridement which is the removal of dead skin and tissue from the burned area, it’s done in the hospital or a surgical unit.
  • Third degree burns might leave extensive scars as they heal, these are called hypertrophic scars.
  • Because the burned area is deep, some might need skin graft to cover the burned area.
  • Dressing changes and use of creams and ointments.

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.

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