A burn is a trauma to the skin, its underlying tissues or other structures. A burn can be caused by thermal, chemical or electrical agents of whom the thermal is the most common.
Millions of burn cases are reported every year, of which the more severe ones require admission, depending mainly on the extent of tissue damage:
- 1st degree: causes redness or swelling in the superficial layers of the skin.
- 2nd degree: involves redness swelling and blistering; damage may extend to deeper layers of the skin.
- 3rd degree: destroys the entire thickness of the skin and can also damage fat, muscle, bone or even deeper structures and organs.
The severity of a burn is also judged by the surface area it covers measured as % of the Total Body Surface Area (%TBSA). Other severity factors that may complicate patient condition are smoke inhalation (SI), age (the younger and older), co-morbidities and the injured anatomical area (face, genitalia, etc.)
Treatment of burns depends on the severity of the burn and the burn cause (etiology); for very severe burn, which results in dead tissue (eschar), debridement, or the removal of the eschar is one of the first and important steps of burn care.