General data about burn




We know that an adult may have more than 20 square feet (1.8m²) of skin. This varies with the weight and the height of that person. When an area of the skin is burned, the extent of the injury will be expressed as a percentage of their total skin surface.

For example 4% burn will mean that only 4% (one twenty-fifth) of your total skin surface will be burned.

The surface of the palm of your hand is about 1% of the total body surface area and can cover your body 100 times. There are charts that calculate the area of skin that covers each part of your body. For example, the skin that covers the arm of an adult will represent 9% of total skin surface, whereas one whole leg will count for 18%.

In babies and small children, the head is relatively bigger and the legs are smaller and the proportions are not the same as they are in adults. So in a baby, one leg is only 13% of the total skin surface.

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When we are talking about burns severity, the size of injury is not the only thing that matters.
There are several factors that can tell you how severe your burn is. The main factors are:
1.How deep is your burn
2.How much skin was burned
3.The part of the body where the skin was burned
5.Smoke inhalation / Burns of the airways and lungs
6.Your health before the burn.

3. In your daily activities, you frequently use your hands and you stand on your feet. The face is an important part of human communication, and has important features like the eyes, the nose and the mouth.
Some parts of our body are more important than the others, because they have special functions. These areas are: face, neck, hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles, knees, and the down below (perineum).

When one of these areas sustains a burn injury, healing, recovery and regaining function is a complex process and needs a lot of effort from the patient and the medical team.

For example a 4% burn on the back is fairly straight forward as long as it is not too deep. It will be less severe than a 4% burn involving both hands, because the hands have very complex functions.
During the healing period, if you present with burns on hands, you will be very dependent on nursing and therapy staff. It is important for long term function that hand burns are treated carefully.

A 4% shallow burn to the face may cause a lot of swelling, you may not see properly for a few days and your lips might get bigger. You will depend a lot on nursing staff to help you with daily activities.

If you have sustained a deep burn to your face, the healed scars will significantly influence your life. Psychological support might be required.


4. Age is another factor that will influence the severity of the burn. Babies and small children as well as elderly people are at higher risk of problems.

5. Severity of a burn increases if there is a possibility of smoke inhalation which can cause breathing difficulties.

In this situation, the patient needs close monitoring of his breathing and will be treated in a high dependency area of a Burn Centre. Sometimes we need to help his/her breathing with a tube through his/her nose or mouth while the patient is sedated and will be put on a breathing machine till his breathing improves.

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