Hot Hand Defines Skin Burns

By Bill Kray

Display new skin burn classifications.

Hot Hand Defines Skin Burns - Display new skin burn classifications.

Bent at the elbows, your hands are extended prone while an opponent's are supine, touching ever so slightly just below your own. His objective is to slap your opposing hand before you can retract it. Too slow and you feel the burn. Several distractions later, you realize why the game is called "Hot Hands." Unfortunately, for victims of conflagration, hot hands is not a game. It can be debilitating, even life threatening.

Fire fighters and EMTs put their lives on the line to bring burn victims to centers for treatment as quickly as possible. There are ways to calculate the percentage of bodily burn and protocols to minimize tissue damage. Throughout training and their careers, doctors and nurses have become accustomed to terms such as 2nd and 3rd degree burns — terms that are still widely used today. But now, new classifications are beginning to be used to define skin burns as they relate to tissue depth.

  • First-degree (superficial)
  • Second-degree (partial thickness)
  • Third-degree (full thickness)

There are also even more severe fourth- and fifth-degree burns. The most common burn injury among children is scald injury, in the kitchen or bathroom of their own homes. The appearance can vary significantly depending upon the cause.

  • Thermal - flames, hot liquids, hot solid objects, steam, sun
  • Cold exposure (frostbite) - ice crystals puncture the cells
  • Electrical - possible internal damage, especially to the heart, muscles or brain
  • Chemical - acids, bases, oxidizers, solvents, reducing agents and alkylants

The variety of causes and appearances may lead to discrepancies in identification. The degree of damage can also migrate subdermally when a corrosive agent is involved or if a thermal burn is not properly cooled.

The Skin Burn Severity poster depicts five surface level burns from various causes, ranging from superficial to deep tissues. Color coded corresponding cutaway views describe characteristics of 1st through 4th degree burns. So regardless of how you refer to them, this chart provides a common frame of reference. Also included on the largest size, are adult and child figures for calculating the rule of nines body surface area.

All the classifications are shown on the back of one hand, making this a hot poster to have in dermatology offices, EMT schools and burn care centers. Order yours in time for Burn Care Awareness Week, February 2-8, 2014.