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Causes, Types of Common Burn Injuries

Burn Injuries

3,275 people died in fires in 2014, and another 15,575 were seriously injured. The number of fires reported that year was a staggering 1,298,000, according to the United States Fire Administration.

These numbers also represent $11.6 billion in economic losses.

However, fires at homes and businesses only tell part of the story of burn injuries. Explosions, electrocutions, flammable clothing, and car accidents are just some of the many other situations that can cause a burn injury.

Common Types of Burn Injuries

Most common types of burn injuries includes the following.

  1. Thermal Burn
  2. Heat Burn
  3. Electrical Burn
  4. Chemical Burn

1. Thermal Burn

Thermal burns occur due to contact with a heat source such as fire, metal, liquid, or steam. They are more common than any other type of burn injury.

When people seek medical treatment for a thermal burn, 43 percent are due to contact with fire or flames, 23 percent occur due to scalding, and eight percent of people had direct contact with a hot object. Scalding injuries also fall into the category of thermal burns.

2. Heat Burn

Prolonged exposure to a heat source can cause extensive skin damage, smoke inhalation, internal organ damage, infections, shock, cardiac arrest, and more. Those who survive often need services such as physical therapy, ongoing medical care, and psychological counseling.

3. Electrical Burn

Electrical burns comprise four percent of burn center admissions. An electrical burn occurs when current travels through the body and causes internal and external injuries.

Most electrical burn injuries’ damage occurs beneath the surface of the skin. The severity depends on the length of exposure, the type and intensity of the current, and the amount of moisture present on the body in the area where the current traveled.

See also: Burns: When to Visit the ER.

Most people who have contact with a low-voltage electrical current don’t experience significant burns. However, they can still experience serious consequences such as cardiac arrest if they had wet skin at the time of the contact.

Low-voltage currents include anything under 500 volts. High-voltage is anything over 1,000 volts that passes through the body. This type of injury can cause severe skin burns, seizures, long-term unresponsiveness, sudden cardiac arrest, fractures, and permanent neurological deficits.

4. Chemical Burn

Chemical burns are most common in the workplace, but they can happen at home as well. These burn injuries account for three percent of all admissions to burn centers.

A chemical burn occurs when skin encounters specific acids, caustic chemicals, or alkaloids. The agricultural, automotive, medical, and construction industries use alkaloids more than other sectors.

Industrial products such as gasoline, tar, and wet pavement can cause significant chemical burns.

Everyday home products, including hair dye and nail polish remover, can create the same types of burn injuries. That is also true of household cleaners containing lye, sulfuric acid, phenol, or sodium hypochlorite.

Chemical explosions and spills can cause serious injuries and disfigurement. Permanent hearing loss, loss of a limb, extensive skin damage, and scarring are just some examples of injuries that a person who has suffered a chemical burn might experience.

Burns can destroy the barrier between the skin and internal body functions, which leads to problems such as dehydration, shock, and infection.

It’s important to seek immediate medical attention for any burn injury, even if appears minor to you at the time. A doctor experienced in treating burns is the best person to decide on its severity and any future treatment you might need.

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