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Burns and Abrasions


A burn is an injury to the skin which causes damage to the skin and if the burn is severe enough, then they tissues beneath the skin may also be damaged. There are several causes of burns; however the most common is a burn due to heat. Burns caused by hot liquids or gasses (like boiling oil and steam) are often referred to as scalds.

A person who has been trapped and burned in a fire may also have damage to their lungs as a result of breathing in the hot smoke. In this case, professional care by a healthcare practitioner is recommended.

The size of the area that is burned is very important as large burns (larger than your hand), may cause the burn victim to go into shock as a result of pain and fluid loss through the wound. Burns are classified according to the extent and depth of the burn. If the burnt area is larger than a hand and appears to be deep then it is advisable to get the burn victim to a healthcare practitioner as soon as possible.

Chemical burns occur when the skin/tissue is damaged by a chemical such as an acid. Electrical burns result from damage caused by electricity, as may happen if you get an electric shock. In all burn cases, it is important to remove the cause of the burn as soon as possible. Chemical burns caused by a powdered substance should be dusted in order to remove the powder and electric causes of a burn should be removed very carefully. Removing the cause of an electric burn requires great care and you should not touch the person who is being shocked as you will not want to shock yourself as well. Use a non conductive object, like wood, to remove the object shocking the person. Once the cause has been safely removed, the part of the body that is burned should be run under cool water for at least ten minutes (longer in the case of a chemical burn to ensure that the chemical is thoroughly removed), to soothe the area and reduce swelling. Burns may also be caused by a very cold object, like dry ice or liquid nitrogen. In this case it is not advisable to run cool water over the burn. Luke warm or tepid water should be run over the burn to avoid further damage.

It is also important to know that electrical burns may cause internal damage over and above the burn wound and shock victims with burns should also be seen by a healthcare practitioner. Any burns that have not healed within ten days should also be examined by a healthcare practitioner.


Your skin is made up of three layers: your epidermis (top/outer layer); dermis and hypodermis. An abrasion is a superficial wound that is generally not deeper than your epidermis. Abrasions do not usually bleed, however an abrasion may cause blood to weep from your deeper tissues. They are caused when your skin is rubbed repetitively or forcefully on another surface, usually a hard or rough surface, for example a carpet (resulting in an abrasion that is commonly referred to as a carpet burn).

Abrasions that are not deep and that do not involve a large area of skin do not usually leave scars, however deeper and more extensive abrasions may scar. An abrasion should not take more than four weeks to heal. If your abrasion has not healed after four weeks, or if it appears infected, then please consult your healthcare practitioner.



Damaged Skin


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