Basic Facts About Burn Injuries

Burn injuries vary widely in their severity. Mild burns are often treatable at home with basic first aid techniques. However, more severe burns require emergency care . Given the alarming prevalence of burn injuries in the U.S., it’s advisable to learn how to identify a severe burn that requires emergency care and to take steps to reduce the risk of burns.


According to the American Burn Association , the number of burn injuries that required treatment at a hospital was estimated at 450,000 in just one year. Of those, 40,000 required hospitalization, which includes 30,000 admittances to hospital burn centers. These burn injuries can be caused by fire, hot oil, and even hot tap water. Fireworks, caustic chemicals, tanning beds, and damaged electrical cords are other possible causes of burn injuries.


First-degree burn injuries only affect the outer layer of skin. They are the mildest type of burn injury and they typically heal within three to six days. Second-degree burns, or superficial partial-thickness burns, affect the deeper tissues of the outer layer of the skin. Second-degree burns often result in blistering and may result in scarring. A more serious type of second-degree burn is a deep partial-thickness burn, which affects the outer layer of skin and the layer underneath, which is called the dermis. Third-degree burns are the most serious type. They affect all layers of the skin and can damage underlying structures, including muscle and bone.


For minor burns, first aid at home involves immediately cooling the affected area with cool running water, and then covering it with sterile gauze. It’s important not to apply ice, butter, ointments, or other home remedies to the burn. Even a minor burn requires care at a hospital if it exhibits signs of infection, covers a large area of the body, or affects the face, hands, or genital area. More serious burns require emergency care. Hospital staff may administer oxygen, start the patient on IV fluids, apply splints, or perform a skin graft.

In addition to providing emergency care to residents of the San Jose area, Good Samaritan Hospital provides specialized wound treatment. Our Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center takes an interdisciplinary approach to treating non-healing wounds to promote the best possible outcome for our patients. Patients can call (408) 559-2011 to ask about the other healthcare services available at our community hospital, including cardiac care and maternity services.

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