A burn is defined as an injury to flesh that is occasioned by heat, electricity, friction, and chemicals. Burns will mostly affect the skin but on rare occasions they can go deeper and affect muscle tissue, bone tissue, and even blood vessels. There are two important issues that are always addressed when dealing with matters burns- first is determining the extent of the burn, and secondly is managing the burn. Burns are classified according to the extent of damage that they occasion. This system of classification was laid down by French barber surgeon Ambroise Pare. This system of classification remains in use today.
Classification of burns
Burns are classified according to their depth of damage. This distinction is based on whether the injury in question is superficial in its damage or whether it is partial in its damage. The latter normally heals on its own, whilst the latter will require some surgical excision. In a nutshell, burns under this system of classification have the following features:
- First degree burn: This type of burn affects the epidermis. It will normally heal on its own in under a week. The appearance of the surface of this burn is red, although the texture of the burn is rough. The risk that is associated with this sort of burn is that it exacerbates ones chances of developing skin cancer later in life.
- Second degree burns. This classification is further broken down into two groups. We have second degree burns that have a superficial partial thickness, and those that have a deep partial thickness. The distinctions between the two are explained. In the case of the superficial partial thickness the burn touches the surface layer of the dermis. This is the reverse of the second classification where the burn touches on deeper layers of the dermis. The second degree superficial thickness has a moist texture, and will take some 2-3 weeks before healing occurs. With regard to appearance this burn has appears red and has clear blisters. The possibly complication that might possibly arise from this kind of burn is that the individual might have to battle local infections. On the other hand the second degree burn with deep partial thickness takes weeks to heal, and if managed badly could progress into third degree burns. It has a red and white appearance with bloody blisters. The possible complication that may arise from this type of burn is that it might in later years require skin excision.
- Third degree burns. This type of burn might appear horrid but luckily the individual does not feel the pain. Because of the severity of this kind of burn, this sort of burn is managed by excision. Possible complications that might arise on account of a person experiencing this sort of burn are as follows- scarring, and amputation. The appearance of this burn is white in color and it has a dry and leathery feeling to it; it gets its classification from the fact that in this sort of burn the burn injury extends throughout the entire dermis.
- Fourth degree burn. This is the most serve burn. In this injury, the burn extends through the subcutaneous layer, the muscle tissue, and even the bone tissue. The skin appears black and charred, and has a dry texture. The only positive from this scenario is that there is no feeling of sensation – in other words it is painless. The possible side effects from this sort of burn are as follows – amputation, possible gangrene, significant functional impairment, and in some case even death.