All burns (with the exception of minor superficial burns) require medical treatment with wound care and pain control.
- Airway, breathing, and circulation should be assessed first.
- Fluid resuscitation is a cornerstone, critical aspect of burn management.
- Minor burns should be cooled with cold / wet compresses and covered loosely with sterile gauze. Antibiotic ointment may be applied.
- Aggressive wound care is essential to prevent burn wound colonization.
- Depending on the severity of the burn, surgical debridement, escharotomy, or fasciotomy may be necessary as the first step of skin burn management. The ultimate goal is to prevent wound infection and to close / skin graft the defect to reduce morbidity and mortality.
- Thermal burns
- Full-thickness burns
- Partial-thickness burns affecting 10% or more of total body surface area
- Any deep-partial- or full-thickness burns involving the face, hands, genitalia, feet, or perineum or over any joints
- Patients with burns and other comorbidities
- Patients with concomitant traumatic injuries
- Poorly controlled pain
- All patients with suspected inhalation injury
- Pediatrics (≤14 years of age, or <30 kg) – All pediatric burns may benefit from burn center referral due to pain, dressing change needs, rehabilitation, patient / caregiver needs, or nonaccidental trauma.
- All chemical injuries
- Electrical injury
- All high-voltage (≥1,000 V) electrical injuries
- Lightning injury
Thermal and electrical burns of skin can result in painful and debilitating injuries and in some instances may be fatal. With any burn injury to the skin, it is important to obtain an accurate history of the manner, duration, and intensity of the exposure.
Scald burns are the most common type of thermal burn to the skin, and severity is dependent on duration and on the viscosity of the liquid involved. Flame burns are the next most common, followed by flash burns and contact burns to the skin. E-cigarettes and exploding lithium batteries from cell phones have been associated with thermal burns.
Electrical burns of skin are of two main types, depending on the voltage involved:
- High voltage (>1000 volts)
- Low voltage (<1000 volts)
To determine the TBSA involved, one can use the "rule of nines" or the Lund-Browder chart. It is important to note that because of differences in body proportion, the percentage assigned for each body area is different in adults and children.
Depth of skin injury in burn is classified as follows:
- Superficial (1st degree) – Involves the epidermis only.
- Partial thickness (2nd degree) – Involves all of the epidermis and part of the dermis. Characterized further according to the depth of dermal injury: superficial partial thickness or deep partial thickness.
- Full thickness (3rd degree) – Involves all of the epidermis and the dermis.
Immunocompromised Patient Considerations:
Burns in this group can result in increased morbidity and mortality due to infection.