Burns - Treatment

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What kind of treatment did you receive for your burn? What part or how much of your body was affected?

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What is the significance of the amount of body area burned?

In addition to the depth of the burn, the total area of the burn is significant. Burns are measured as a percentage of total body area affected. The "rule of nines" is often used, though this measurement is adjusted for infants and children. This calculation is based upon the fact that the surface area of the following parts of an adult body each correspond to approximately 9% of total (and the total body area of 100% is achieved):

  • Head = 9%
  • Chest (front) = 9%
  • Abdomen (front) = 9%
  • Upper/mid/low back and buttocks = 18%
  • Each arm = 9%
  • Each palm = 1%
  • Groin = 1%
  • Each leg = 18% total (front = 9%, back = 9%)

As an example, if both legs (18% x 2 = 36%), the groin (1%) and the front chest and abdomen were burned, this would involve 55% of the body.

Picture of the Rule of Nines - Burns on an Adult
Picture of the Rule of Nines - Burns on an Adult

Only second and third degree burn areas are added together to measure total body burn area. While first degree burns are painful, the skin integrity is intact and it is able to do its job with fluid and temperature maintenance.

If more than15%-20% of the body is involved in a burn, significant fluid may be lost. Shock may occur if inadequate fluid is not provided intravenously. As the percentage of burn surface area increases, the risk of death increases as well. Patients with burns involving less than 20% of their body should do well, but those with burns involving greater than 50% have a significant mortality risk, depending upon a variety of factors, including underlying medical conditions and age.

Return to Burns (First Aid)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Pat, 65-74 Female (Caregiver) Published: October 18

I am so very glad to give this information in reference to my second degree burn to my left forearm near my elbow as I was removing a casserole from the oven and touched the rack! I applied cold water and after that silver nitrate and cocoa butter did it! There was no pain, no scar and cannot identify the place of the burn after 4-5 days! Thank goodness for silver nitrate and cocoa butter!

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Comment from: Blessed, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 08

I was hit by a fire ball from a charcoal grill that burned my face, ear, neck and my hand where it blistered and I lost some skin. I used aloe plant and my face, neck and ear healed in less than a week. I applied the aloe like lotion on the burned areas. Now the issue with my hand, it is still healing and the skin has now peeled off and my skin in exposed. I also use aloe and Neosporin to the area. It's going on week 2.

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