- First Aid Sprains & Strains Slideshow
- First Aid Essentials Slideshow
- Take the Trauma and First Aid Quiz
- Trauma and First Aid FAQs
- Patient Comments: Burns (First Aid) - Experience
- Patient Comments: Burns - Treatment
- Patient Comments: Electrical Burns - Experience
- Patient Comments: Chemical Burns - Experience
Quick GuideFirst Aid: Properly Caring for Wounds
How important is the location of a burn?
Burn location is an important consideration.
If there are circumferential burns to the chest, as the burn progresses, the tissue involved may not allow enough motion of the chest wall to allow adequate breathing to occur. If circumferential burns occur to arms, legs, fingers, or toes, the same constriction may not allow blood flow and put the survival of the extremity at risk. Burns to areas of the body with flexion creases, like the palm of the hand, the back of the knee, the face, and the groin may need specialized care. As the burn matures, the skin may scar and shorten, preventing full range of motion of the body area.
What about electrical burns?
Electrical burns may cause serious injury that is not readily apparent. Often the entry and exit points for the electrical shock may not be easily found.
Electricity flows more easily through tissues in the body that are designed to deal with electricity. Nerves and muscles are "wired" for this task and often are damaged. If significant muscle damage occurs, muscle fibers and chemicals can be released into the bloodstream causing electrolyte disturbances and kidney failure.
What about chemical burns?
Burns can also occur when chemicals are spilled onto the body and generate a reaction that creates heat. Chemical burns may be classified by their pH or acidity.
- Acids are those with pH less than 7 and include common household compounds like acetic acid, hydrochloric acid, or sulfuric acid.
- Bases or alkali compounds have a pH greater than 7. Ammonia is a common alkali found in the home.