Severity is assessed by burn size (% total body surface area) and depth (first to fourth degree).
Most burns can be managed in an outpatient setting. Early management affects long-term outcome.
Initial treatment of minor burns consists of wound cooling, cleaning, and dressing. Pain management and tetanus prophylaxis are important.
Serious burns are most effectively managed in regional burn centers.
Prognosis varies from excellent to poor depending on the severity of the burn. Associated injuries (such as inhalation injury or trauma) adversely affect the prognosis.
The majority of patients will have satisfying outcomes.
Burns are very common injuries, predominantly to the skin and superficial tissues, caused by heat from hot liquids, flame, or contact with heated objects, electrical current, or chemicals.
History and exam
Key diagnostic factors
- dry and painful burns
- wet and painful burns
- dry and insensate burns
- burns affecting subcutaneous tissue, tendon, or bone
- clouded cornea
- young children
- age >60 years
- male sex
1st investigations to order
- complete blood count
- metabolic panel
- arterial blood gas
- fluorescein staining
- computed tomography scan of head and spine
- wound biopsy culture
- wound histology
suitable for outpatient care
requires inpatient care
Rob Sheridan, MD
Associate Professor of Surgery
Harvard Medical School
RS is an author of a number of references cited in this topic.
Ravi Ubriani, MD, FAAD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Dermatology
RU declares that he has no competing interests.
Chris Tedeschi, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Department of Emergency Medicine
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
CT declares that he has no competing interests.
Chad M. Hivnor, Major, USAF, MC, FS
Outpatient & Pediatric Dermatology
59th Medical Wing/ SGOMD
Lackland Air Force Base
CMH declares that he has no competing interests.
Dean D. Ad-El, MD
Chairman, Department of Plastic Surgery and Burn Unit
Rabin Medical Center - Beilinson Hospital
Sackler Faculty of Medicine
Director of Plastic Surgery Services
Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel
DDAE participated as one of the moderators in a course in IMCAS, Paris in January 2009.
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- Toxic epidermal necrolysis (Stevens-Johnson syndrome)
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- International first aid and resuscitation guidelines
- First aid
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