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Burns in Children

Detailed information on burns, burn types, classification of burns, and burn treatment

Anatomy of the Skin

The skin is the body's largest organ. It serves as a protective shield against heat, light, injury, and infection.

Burns Overview

Burns are a type of injury caused by thermal, electrical, chemical, or electromagnetic energy. Most burn accidents occur at home.

Classification and Treatment of Burns

Burns are classified as first-, second-, or third-degree, depending on how deep and severe they penetrate the skin's surface.

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns affect only the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. The burn site is red, painful, and dry, with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example.

Second-Degree Burns (Partial Thickness Burns)

Second-degree burns involve the outer and middle layers of skin. The burn site appears red and blistered, and may be swollen and painful.

Third-Degree Burns

This type of burn destroys the top two layers of skin. Treatment for third-degree burns depends on the amount of body surface area affected.

Preventing Burn Injuries

Here are safety tips: Periodically, check electrical plugs and cords for dirt or fraying. When cooking with hot oil, keep your child a safe distance from the stove. Teach your child to stay away from lighters and matches.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns can occur when strong acids or alkalies come in contact with the skin and/or the eyes.

Heat or Thermal Burns

A heat-induced or thermal burn can occur when the skin comes in contact with any heat source, such as a cooking pan, an iron, a fire, a hot surface, or a hot, scalding liquid.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns occur when a child comes in contact with electricity, either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).

Nutrition and Burns

A child who has been burned needs additional calories and protein to help him or her heal and grow.

Burns: Symptom Management

Most children with burns have pain, which can be controlled with medication. They also usually experience itching at some point during the healing process.

Preventing Scars and Contractures

Most second- and third-degree burns cause scarring. Physical therapists will work with your child to prevent or reduce scarring.

Home Wound Care

Your child may come home with unhealed areas that still require dressing changes. You will be instructed on how to change dressings before you leave the hospital.

If Your Child Has Difficulty Adjusting

Agitated behavior such as crying, sleep disturbances and nightmares, and repeated episodes of sadness are signs that your child may be having difficulty coping with stress.

Coping Emotionally

Your child's burn care and emotional recovery will continue when you leave the hospital. Along with the excitement, you and your child may also feel uneasy about what will happen next.

When to Call Your Child's Doctor

These are reasons to call your child's doctor: signs of infection, uncontrollable itching, a scar that cracks open or splits.