Burns: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Burn is often regarded as an injury caused by fire. A major burn injury does not merely represent an unpleasant skin wound but also constitutes a major illness. It is a catastrophe to the patient and relatives both psychologically and physiologically. This affects all vital systems in the body putting the patient life at risk. It is costly to be treated and the disfigurement it places on the patient will be an indelible mark which the person will never forget.

Information about burns should be accompanied by immediate lifestyle changes because when you are informed, you are better equipped to act in the right way. You should be able to enlighten your family, and community about fire and burns prevention and how to administer simple first aid treatment to a victim of burns.
 What is a burn? Burn is the necrosis of the skin and mucus membrane with or without the underlying structures which can be caused by dry, moist heat, chemical or electricity.
Cause of burns  include the following:
  1. It could be caused by dry flame, for example, explosions from kerosene stove, local lantern, gas explosion, bush burning etc. Moist heat sources include: hot drinks, hot water, steam from car radiators, pressure pots etc. 
  2. Electricity sources include: damaged electrical wires (cords), high voltage wire etc. 
  3. Chemicals such as strong acids, base either in solid, liquid or gaseous form, caustic soda, alkaline etc. 
  4. Radiation: sunlight, radio therapy, nuclear explosions etc.

Burn injury is better prevented than experiencing the pains that accompany it because it is often said that prevention is better than cure. Guidelines/steps by which burns can be prevented include:
  • Leaking gas cylinders, kerosene lamp and stove should not be used. 
  • Switching off light on stove or kerosene lantern before refilling. 
  • Refilling generating set when is off. 
  • Old people, children and epileptic patients should not be allowed close to the kitchen or fire. 
  • Avoid usage of candles or mosquito coils. 
  • Switch off electrical appliances when going out. 
  • Cooking should not be done on the ground but on a raised level not reachable to children. 
  • Avoid wearing high inflammable materials such as silk when cooking. 
  • Avoid circular bush burning. 
  • Protective aprons should be worn during x-rays and in industries. 
  • “No” smoking sign should be hanged in every filling station. 
  • Kitchen should be properly ventilated.

  • In case the victim is burning, tell him or her to lie on the ground and start rolling as this will reduce the intensity of the burning flames. Pour water on the victim’s body until the affected areas is no longer hot. Cut through his or her cloth and remove constrictor, for example, bangle, ring, wrist watch etc. Then transport to the nearest hospital for expert management. 
  • If the whole house is full of smoke, the person /victim should crawl. 
  • In case of electric burn, switch off the socket and use a dry stick and detach the victim and take him or her to the hospital.
Note: Please avoid the use of raw eggs, olive oil, ink or any fluid on the affected wound areas as this will cause growth of micro-organisms on the wound thereby making it not to heal on time.

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