We are devastated to see the Australian Fires tearing our beautiful country apart.
In total, more than 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) have been burned across Australia's six states -- an area larger than the countries of Belgium and Denmark combined. The worst-affected state is NSW, with more than 4.9 million hectares (12.1 million acres) burned.
Over 500 Million animals have been killed. These are facts sprawled all over the internet.
But what exactly is a burn injury?
A burn injury most often damages layers of skin. Deeper burn injuries may damage tissue (fat and muscle), or even bone.
What are the main causes of burn injuries?
Burn injuries can happen in many ways. Common examples are:
Flame: contact with fire or flame
Flash: resulting from the heat of an explosive blast
Scald: contact with hot liquids or hot steam
Grease: contact with hot grease
Contact: prolonged contact with something hot
Electrical: electricity passing through the body and heating the skin and underlying tissue
Chemical: contact with chemicals, such as acid or alkalis
What are the different degrees of burn injury?
Clinicians measure depth of burns in degrees:
First degree burns are the mildest type of burn. They are also called superficial burns. First degree burns damage only the epidermis, which is the first layer of skin. First degree burns usually don’t get infected or leave a scar. The skin may get red but won’t break and usually heals within 3–5 days.
Second degree burns are also called partial thickness burns. This type of burn damages the epidermis and the dermis. The dermis is the second layer of skin. Second degree burns are painful. The injured area can swell and appear red with blisters. The damaged skin usually grows back unless it becomes infected or the injury gets deeper.
Third degree burns are also called full thickness burns. This type of burn goes through the epidermis and dermis and affects deeper tissues, which may also be damaged or destroyed. The injured area can appear charred and may be black, white, or deep red in color. This area is often numb to light touch. Third degree burns don’t heal by themselves, so skin grafting is often necessary (discussed later).
Fourth degree and deeper burns destroy the skin plus fat, muscle and sometimes bone.
Can lungs be burned?
When breathed in, smoke or toxic gases can harm the lungs. Clinicians call this an inhalation injury. This type of injury often occurs when the injured person is trapped in an enclosed area for a long amount of time. Damage depends on the type of gas and smoke particles inhaled and on length of exposure.
What about infection?
Burned areas can get infected, at the time of the injury and during the healing process. To prevent infection, people with burn injuries should follow the treatment orders of their healthcare team. They should also follow the hospital's infection control guidelines, such as using gloves and gowns when recommended.
The recovery process differs for everyone. Most patients report feeling pain, fatigue, and itching during recovery and rehabilitation.
Pain is common. Third degree burns are painful with deep pressure. Second degree burns are painful with air movement or changes in temperature. First degree burns are painful on the surface of the skin. Health care providers treat pain in different ways.
Fatigue is common.
The more severe the burn injury, the greater the level of fatigue.Itching is a common part of the healing process. Moisturizers and antihistamines can help make the burned area less itchy. Patients should never scratch their wounds.
Patients may have a tough time dealing with these symptoms. But health care providers can offer at least some relief.
During this period, please take note and educate yourself on burns and how you can possible assist someone in need.
Take care of yourself and look after those around you.