Thursday, June 23, 2011

Burns - Ouch!

by Diane  Forrest

A burn is an injury to the flesh that is caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, light, radiation or friction.  Most burns affect only the skin, and very rarely the bones, muscles tissues or blood vessels.  Most burns can be treated with first aid, and don't require emergency treatment, however for more serious burns patients may be transported to a specialized burn unit.

There are many types of burns
  • Heat burns (thermal burns) are caused by fire, steam, hot objects, or hot liquids. Scald burns from hot liquids are the most common burns to children and older adults.
  • Cold temperature burns are caused by skin exposure to wet,  wind, and cold conditions.
  • Electrical burns are caused by contact with electrical sources or by lightning.
  • Chemical burns are caused by contact with household or industrial chemicals in a liquid, solid, or gas form. Natural foods such as chili peppers, which contain a substance irritating to the skin, can cause a burning sensation.
  • Radiation burns are caused by the sun, tanning booths, sunlamps, X-rays, or radiation therapy for cancer treatment.
  • Friction burns are caused by contact with any hard surface such as roads ("road rash"), carpets, or gym floor surfaces. They are usually both a scrape (abrasion) and a heat burn. Athletes who fall on floors, courts, or tracks may get friction burns  to the skin.

Burns are categorized as first, second, third or fourth degree, with the 4th being the most severe and involves deep tissue, muscle and maybe even bone.  Treatment for fourth degree burns is normally amputation. 

3rd Degree Burn (

Third degree burns go through the entire layer of skin, and is usually painless because the nerve endings are destroyed.  Possible amputation with this type of burn may also occur.

2nd Degree Burn (

Second degree burns involve the first layers of skin.  Area is red, and blisters form, may cause infections and is very painful as the nerve endings are affected.  These burns usually take 2 to 3 weeks to heal.

1st Degree Burn (

First degree burns are the most common.  These involve the first layer of the skin, causing redness and takes about a week to heal and during that time you will notice the skin starting to peel.  The most common type of first degree burn is the sunburn, which is the focus of today's article.

Now that summer is here, more and more folks are heading out side.  They are going to beaches, lakes, pools, on picnics and trips to the zoo, spending more time in the sun after being cooped up all winter long.   Sunlight is very beneficial to us.  Not only is it a great source of Vitamin D, which is most known to regulate calcium levels and absorption. It is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Also important for healthy immune function, nervous function and for insulin/blood sugar regulation, numerous endocrine and digestive functions, vitamin D is a necessary component for good health.  The sun also benefits us by regulating our biorhythm cycles allowing us to have a better, deeper night’s sleep, and   it increases our detoxification and purification systems.

However, too much of a good thing can also be bad for you.  Not only does overexposure to the sun cause the skin to burn, it can also cause skin cancer.  To avoid this from happening, here are some precautions to take:
  • Use a high rated spf sun block.  SPF is Sun protectant factor;
  • Apply sun block 15 to 30 minutes before exposure, then again after 30 minutes of exposure;  
  • Reapply sun block after swimming or excessive sweating;
  • Wear wide brim hats and sunglasses;
  • Sit under an umbrella or shade tree;
  • Wear loose fitting clothes that provide maximum coverage of exposed skin; and
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

The sun's rays are the worse during the hours of 10 and 4, so plan activities before or after those hours.

Enjoy your fun in the sun, but take the precautions to keep safe.

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