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Skin Burns Case Study

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In the integumentary system, one condition that can adversely affect it is burns. Burns can be defined as damage to tissue that has been caused by heat. Burns can come from thermal, chemical or radiation. Once you have a burn it is extremely important to find out what degree it is. Is it a first, second or third degree burn? Once you determine what kind of burn you are dealing with, you can decide what kind of treatment you need.

The skin is divided into two main parts; the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis by definition is the superficial, thinner layer of skin, composed of keratinized stratified squamous epithelium. Dermis is a layer of dense irregular connective tissue lying deep to the epidermis. It is important to know these two main parts, because they will play a role in categorizing the degree of burn. Before we do that lets talk about thermal burns.

If you have temperatures greater than 120 Fahrenheit it will only take a matter of seconds to burn a child to where they will need surgery. When dealing with thermal burns be careful when trying to categorize the burn. Ask yourself is it life-threatening, accidental. Is it something that happened in the home or at work? When dealing with a thermal burn it is also important to know if the source was from heat, flame or scalding. Where did the burn happen on the body? If it happens on the face hand or an area of sensitivity then the victim needs to see a specialist.

A first degree burn will only entail the epidermis. We also call this type of burn superficial burn. Some characteristics of this type of burn is the tissue has very little damage or the tissue blanches with pressure. Also, sunburn is a common example of this type of burn. Partial-thickness burns or second degree burns have burned the epidermis and has gotten into the dermis. The victim will get blisters right away or within the first day. If the injury is not treated quickly or correctly your victim could have greater complications and may cause a full-thickness burn.

A full-thickness (third-degree) burn is one that has gone thought both epidermis and dermis. There is a good possibility that the burn has extended to the nerves and muscles. You can identify this type of burn by its waxy white leathery texture. This burn will typically be painless to the touch. The victim will most likely need a skin graft.

In closing, the best way to treat dangerous burns is to first see if you can remove the victim from cause of the burn. Try to asset your victim and see if ABC's are needed and contact emergency personnel. Burns can be deadly and is truly one adverse affect on the integumentary system.


Goodis, J. MD, Schraga.E,MD. (2008

Burns, Thermal. eMedicine Specialties, Emergency Medicine, Environmental.



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