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Burns: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2021

What is the treatment?

A burn is caused by prolonged exposure to fire and can range in severity from mild to extreme and fatal. The severity depends mainly on the time period of the exposure to the fire, and the total area that is burned. A first degree burn is the mildest. It refers to a burn that only affects the upper layer of the skin. Such burns can be treated easily, and often do no leave a scar if treated well on time. A second degree burn goes deeper than the first layer of the skin and requires more medical attention than a first degree burn. A third degree burn is the most severe. It affects the muscles of your body, and can even go down to the bone. This type of burn requires extensive medical attention for the treatment, including surgery.

Minor burns incurred in the kitchen can be treated with the help of creams and ointments that are meant for burns. The first line of treatment is to run cold water over the burnt area, after which you can proceed with applying the ointment. Major burns, on the other hand, can require skin grafts, surgery, and intensive care. If they spread over the large part of the body, these burns can be fatal. Getting medical treatment at a hospital is extremely important when it comes to burns. There must be no delay in treatment.

What are the 4 types of Burns?

There are four types of burn. These include:

  • First degree: Skin is affected superficially i.e epidermis is involved. Some of the signs at the burn site include redness with pain and inflammation as well as dryness. No signs of blisters are seen.
  • Second degree: Along with the epidermis, the dermis is involved slightly in this type of burn. The presence of blisters is evident along with pain and inflammation.
  • Third-degree: It completely involves the epidermis and dermis along with partial involvement of the subcutaneous layer. Sites of burn being charred or blackened.
  • Fourth degree: This type of burn affects bone or muscles also along with the skin. The injured region becomes senseless due to the destruction of nerves there.
Summary: Burns are considered as a physical, physiological as well as psychological injury that can be serious or life-threatening in some cases. It is of basically four types depending upon the severity and related symptoms.

How is the treatment done?

To start with the treatment, the doctor in the emergency room will first clear the wound. If there is any debris in the wound or any external object like dirt or ash, the wound can become infected and this can cause problems with the healing. Once the wound is cleaned, the treatment can begin. If the burns are extremely severe, the doctor may have to reopen the wounds a little every day in order to allow the muscles below to heal. Though this may seem counterintuitive, and is quite painful, it is an essential part of the road to recovery.

Skin grafts are also a commonly used treatment for burns. In this treatment, sheets of fresh skin are laid over the burnt area. The skin melds with the body as it heals and becomes a part of it, leaving a network of pink and white scarred flesh. This line of treatment is usually employed when the patient’s skin is not viable for treatment as it is too damaged.

Mild burns can be treated at home with the help of ointments and creams that are available over the counter. These creams cool down the burnt skin and allow it to smoothen and heal quickly. In this case, there usually isn’t a scar left behind. Though when it comes to second and third degree burns, you can expect a scar.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

If you have second and third degree burns, you should go to the hospital immediately for treatment. You can also go if you have first degree burns and want to be on the safe side.


Who is not eligible for the treatment?

If you have certain allergies, it may interfere with the treatment process, making you eligible for some of the treatment options.

Are there any side effects?

With burn treatments, bruising and swelling are a part of the treatment itself. You can also expect pain, disorientation, and loss of memory at times if the treatment is too traumatic. Scars can also be expected.

Should Burns be kept moist or dry?

The area affected from burn should not be soaked or kept moist as it is strictly prohibited in such conditions. Touching must also be avoided. Such precautionary measures are important keeping in mind the adverse effects of such carelessness which may lead to possible complications. The burnt area should be preferred to be covered with a dry wrap.

Summary: The burnt area should be taken care of with proper measures. It should not be touched or soaked or kept moist. It can be wrapped under a dry cotton cloth only. These precautions are important so as to avoid any complications related to the burn injury.

Should you bandage a burn?

A burn needs to be bandaged when blisters are formed due to the burned skin and burst to get in an open condition. Even if the blisters are not formed and the skin in the burned form becomes an open wound, a bandage should be preferred to be done in the affected area. However, in some conditions when there is no open wound formation as blisters do not rupture, there is still a need for bandaging to maintain the cleanliness of the wound.

Any dirt or irritation to the burned area when proper hygiene measures are not taken may lead to an infection that may cause serious complications.

Summary: A burn injury should be treated with proper precautionary measures. Bandaging the burnt area is important when blisters formed over the area get burst or an open wound formation takes place there. Besides this, maintaining proper cleanliness of the wound is also important.

Should you cover a burn or let it breathe?

Burn is a serious medical condition. Some of the precautionary measures are important which need to be followed so as to make the healing faster and for a better recovery. Covering the burned area to allow it to breathe properly is one such way to provide first aid in major Burns cases. A neat and clean piece of cloth should be preferred to avoid any infections.

Summary: Following proper measures is important to promote faster healing and better recovery of the burn injury. The affected area should be covered with a clean and cotton piece of cloth so as to let it breathe properly.

What to do if a burn still hurts after 2 hours?

Home remedies and self-care techniques play an important role in managing the condition of Burns naturally. Such techniques include cleaning the wound as the first step. Antiseptic soap along with water is usually preferred to disinfect the wound to prevent any kind of further infections. For pain and inflammation, medicines are used.

Those medicines include NSAIDs such as ibuprofen which has anti-inflammatory action. If not relieved by these methods, using lotions for skin can enhance the process of wound healing and decrease irritation.

Summary: Following a burn injury, we should clean the wound with antiseptic soap and water. This promotes disinfection of the wound. It is then followed by the application of medicines for pain and inflammation.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

During the healing process, you will be advised to stay away from heat and open flames. Once you have recovered, you will be encouraged to lead a normal life.

How long does it take to recover?

Depending on the severity of the burns it can take anywhere between a few days to a few years to recover completely.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Skin grafts cost anywhere between Rs. 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000 depending on the size of the graft that is needed.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment are permanent.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are no alternatives to the treatment. You must visit a hospital and see a medical professional if you have been burnt.

Summary: Burn is a serious medical condition that may prove to be fatal in certain cases. Home remedies and self-care techniques play an important role in managing the condition of Burns naturally. Such techniques include cleaning the wound as the first step followed by the application of over-the-counter medicines or skin lotions to the affected area. Consulting a doctor is also necessary for such conditions.


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Written ByDr. Ashish DavalbhaktaMBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery,FRCS (UK),FRCS,MS General Surgery,Mch (Plastic Surgery)Cosmetic/Plastic Surgery
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