Burn injuries are not only extremely painful – they take a long time to heal and can cause significant emotional scarring as well as physical disfigurement. Burn victims often suffer emotional damage such as post-traumatic stress disorder or nightmares about the incident for years to come. They may be afraid to return to their normal activities for fear of another burn injury.
Meanwhile, physical injuries create permanent scars to always remind the victim of the traumatic incident.
Burn injuries continue to be one of the leading causes of unintentional death and injury in the United States. Between 2011 and 2015, approximately 486,000 fire or burn injuries were seen at Emergency Departments. Burn injuries can cause significant emotional damage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or nightmares about the incident for years to come. The victim may be afraid of returning to their normal activities because they are concerned with sustaining another burn injury.
In addition, physical scarring creates permanent memories that will always remind them of this traumatic event no matter what happens in life. If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of a burn accident, then call experienced Texas burn injury lawyers at The Crew Law Firm today at 713-955-0909 for a free consultation– we want everyone’s pain alleviated as quickly as possible.
The average person doesn’t realize that human skin performs vital bodily functions such as temperature regulation and hydration which can be compromised by burn scars that become more than just eyesores. Besides being the largest organ of the human body, the skin keeps out disease. It performs numerous other functions while affecting major organs beneath our surface layer, including kidneys and even the liver, so a severe burn can cause subdermal injuries if left untreated long enough.
Severe burns can also destroy hair follicles, sweat glands, skin elasticity, and other functions closer to the surface. Victims with serious burns in major body areas may find it impossible to move the affected area anymore; some can even have trouble breathing.
Insensitive people and children may ask burn victims invasive personal questions, stare, or even comment rudely on the scars. Since our society is so focused on superficial physical beauty, burn victims may even face various forms of discrimination when they’re out in public. For some burn victims, especially young children, this type of treatment can lead to severe shyness or other emotional problems that make it hard to live a normal life.
Different Types of Burn Injuries & How Are They Graded
A burn is a type of injury caused by damage to the skin from excessive heat or other injuries. The heat source can result from thermal, electrical, chemical, or electromagnetic energy. Burn injuries in the workplace can happen suddenly in the workplace, whether it is at a refinery or in the engine room of a ship at sea. About 75% of all burn injuries in children are preventable.
Smoking and open flame are the leading causes of burn injury for older adults. Scalding is the leading cause of burn injury for young children. Both infants and older adults are at the greatest risk for burn injury.
A burn injury often results from an energy transfer to the body and is one of the most common household injuries, especially among children. The term “burn” means more than the burning sensation associated with this injury. Burns are characterized by severe skin damage that causes the affected skin cells to die. Most people can recover from burns without serious health consequences, depending on the cause and degree of injury. More serious burns require immediate emergency medical care to prevent complications and death.
- Thermal burns. These burns are due to external heat sources that raise the temperature of the skin and tissues. These burns also cause tissue cell death or black charring. When coming in contact with the skin, hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, and flames can cause thermal burns.
- Radiation burns. These burns are caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun and also caused by exposure to other sources of radiation such as therapeutic cancer treatments or nuclear power plant leaks.
- Chemical burns. These burns are caused by strong acids, alkalis, detergents, or solvents coming into contact with the skin or eyes.
- Electrical burns. These burns are from electrical current, whether alternating current (A.C.) or direct current (D.C.).
- Friction burns. These burns are caused by direct damage to the cells resulting from the heat generated by friction. Examples include children falling on or touching a treadmill in motion or a rope burn from a rope sliding through the hands.
There are three primary levels of burn severity measurements: first-, second-, and third-degree. Each degree is based on the severity of damage to the skin, with first-degree being the most minor and third-degree being the most severe. Damage includes:
- First-degree burns: red, non-blistered skin
- Second-degree burns: blisters and some thickening of the skin
- Third-degree burns: widespread thickness with a white, leathery appearance
There are also fourth-degree burns. This type of burn includes all of a third-degree burn’s symptoms and extends beyond the skin into tendons and bones. Such injury is usually seen due to exposure to extreme conditions, like a nuclear explosion or volcanic eruption.
The type of burn is not based on the cause of it. For example, scalding can cause all three burn degrees, depending on how hot the liquid is and how long it stays in contact with the skin. Chemical and electrical burns warrant immediate medical attention because they can affect the inside of the body, even if skin damage is minor.
After any burn, research your legal options for remedy. If you think someone else’s negligence is the cause of your burn injury, you may be eligible for compensation. You could recover your medical costs and receive compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost wages. You can speak to our burn injury lawyers FREE of charge to figure out your options by calling 713-955-0909.
Complications from Burn Injuries
The effects of a burn are far-reaching and can lead to serious complications if not treated properly or promptly. For example, the scarring on one’s face may prevent them from working in some cases, which could cause an endless downward spiral of lowered self-esteem, depression, and anxiety, among other things for those who suffer this sort of injury.
In addition to mental or emotional scarring, physical side effects of serious or widespread burns could lead to lifelong problems such as:
- Bacterial infection, which may lead to bloodstream infection (sepsis)
- Nerve damage and residual life-long pain (neuropathy)
- Fluid loss, including low blood volume (hypovolemia)
- Dangerously low body temperature (hypothermia)
- Respiratory problems from the intake of hot air or smoke
- Scars or ridged areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue (keloids)
- Bone and joint problems, such as when scar tissue causes the shortening and tightening of skin, muscles, or tendons (contractures)
- Contractures are scar tissue that can tighten up over time, leading to tightness and making movement painful.
- Compromised immune systems are usually the result of certain organ damage and infections that can permanently affect an immune system.
When to See a Doctor
Any burn injury should be taken seriously, but some more so than others require immediate professional medical treatment. You should seek emergency medical assistance for any of the following:
- Burns that cover the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, a major joint, or a large area of the body
- Deep burns, which means burns affecting all layers of the skin or even deeper tissues or bone
- Burns that cause the skin to look leathery
- Burns that appear charred or have patches of black, brown, or white
- Burns caused by chemicals or electricity
- Difficulty breathing or burns to the airway
It would be best to take basic first-aid measures to treat burn injuries while waiting for emergency assistance.
Burn Injury Treatment
All burn injuries are not created equal and can range from superficial to severe and are classified by “degrees.” The treatment you should apply is based on the degree of the burn.
First-Degree Burn Treatment
First-degree burns cause minimal skin damage. They are also called “superficial burns” because they affect the outermost layer of skin.
First-degree burns are usually treated with home care. Healing time may be quicker the sooner you treat the burn. Treatments for a first-degree burn include:
- soaking the wound in cool water for five minutes or longer
- taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief
- applying lidocaine (an anesthetic) with aloe vera gel or cream to soothe the skin
- using an antibiotic ointment and loose gauze to protect the affected area
Make sure you don’t use ice, as this may worsen the damage. Never apply cotton balls to a burn because the small fibers can stick to the injury and increase the risk of infection. Also, avoid home remedies like butter and eggs because, despite old wives’ tales to the contrary, these techniques are not proven to be effective.
Second-Degree Burn Treatment
Second-degree burns are more serious because the damage extends beyond the top layer of the skin. This type of burn causes the skin to blister and become extremely red and sore.
Due to the delicate nature of these wounds, keeping the area clean and bandaging the wound properly is required to prevent infection and help the burn heal quicker.
Some second-degree burns take longer than three weeks to heal, but most heal within two to three weeks without scarring, often with pigment changes to the skin.
As with first-degree burns, avoid cotton balls and questionable home remedies. Treatments for a mild second-degree burn generally include:
- running the skin under cool water for 15 minutes or longer
- taking over-the-counter pain medication (acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
- applying antibiotic cream to blisters
However, seek emergency medical treatment if the burn affects a general area, such as any of the following:
Third-Degree & Fourth-Degree Burn Treatment
Excluding fourth-degree burns, third-degree burns are the most severe. They cause the most damage, extending through every layer of skin. This type of burn damage is so extensive that there may be no pain because of nerve damage.
Without surgery, these wounds heal with severe scarring and contracture. There is no set timeline for complete spontaneous healing for third-degree or fourth-degree burns.
Never attempt to self-treat these burn injuries, instead call 911 immediately. While you’re waiting for medical treatment, raise the wound above your heart. Don’t get undressed, but make sure no clothing is stuck to the burn.
Texas burn injury lawyers from The Crew Law Firm have proven success in helping individuals recover compensation due to catastrophic injuries from first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, and fourth-degree burns. With access to medical specialists and experts, we know how to demonstrate the full extent of your injuries and will aggressively fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
Types of Burn Injuries
Burns occur most often in the home, due to hot kitchen oils and defective household products. Burns can also happen in the workplace, from improper training or lack of safety gear. Depending on the severity of the burn, victims may require surgeries and skin grafts to treat the injured areas. Severe burns may result in amputation. All burn victims run the risk of infection as well. Specific health risks and prognoses depend on the type of burn:
- Thermal burns. Thermal burns, or those from contact with a hot substance or surface, are the most common type. They can occur in a car accident, in the kitchen, or in a fire or explosion. Thermal burns damage the tissues from the outside inward, and often leave permanent physical scars or disfigurement.
- Chemical burns. Strong acids or bases can lead to chemical burns on a person. Chemical burns can cause reactions on the exterior of your skin or within your body. Chemical burns can result in serious internal damage as well as physical scarring.
- Electrical burns. Electrical burns can come from contact with live electrical wires, electrical current, or lightning. Electric current can run through the body, affecting the tissues, muscles, organs, and bones. These incidents may occur in the workplace while working around power lines or from defective electrical products.
There are also radiation burns, or those caused from ultraviolet lights. These burns are less common than the other three but can result in similar tissue damage and disfigurement. Fireworks, accidental fires, scalding liquids, hazardous chemicals, and electric components can all cause serious burns.
After any type of burn, research your legal options. If you think someone else’s negligence is the cause of your burn injury, you may be eligible for compensation. You could recover for your medical costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost wages.