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Third Degree Burn

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A third degree burn is also called a full thickness burn. Your skin contains 3 layers. A third degree burn occurs when all 3 layers are burned. This may also include damage to the bones and muscles. A third degree burn is the most serious type of burn.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may become dehydrated. You may have serious internal injuries, such as organ damage. You have a higher risk for infection. Third degree burns are so deep that they usually cause scarring. Scarring in some places, such as over joints, can cause loss of motion. Without treatment, your burn may become infected, and you may have increased pain. An infected burn will take longer to heal.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

A Foley catheter

is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out.

Your intake and output

may be measured. Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your urine.

Medicines:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

  • Ointments prevent infection and help your burn heal. The ointment may be placed on your skin or may be part of your bandage.

  • Itching medicine may help decrease irritation and itching. This medicine may be given as a pill, shot, or cream, or through your IV.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests may show infection or check for damage to your muscles, heart, and other organs.

  • A laser scanner is a procedure that uses a small probe to check the blood flow in your skin.

  • An EKG records your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats. It is used to check for heart damage.

  • A chest x-ray may show how well your lungs and heart are working.

Treatment:

  • You may need extra fluids through an IV to help prevent dehydration.

  • Surgery:

    • Debridement: Healthcare providers remove damaged tissue to prevent infection, decrease inflammation, and improve healing.

    • Skin grafts and flaps: Healthcare providers cover or replace lost skin with healthy skin. A graft can help close your wounds, prevent infection, and decrease scarring. Skin flap surgery is done to fix large wounds that cannot be covered by skin grafting. A skin flap is skin and tissue near the wound that is used to cover the wound area. Skin flaps may improve the appearance of your skin.

    • Escharotomy: Healthcare providers make an incision through the dead tissue into the fat layer below. This surgery helps relieve pressure caused by swelling and improves blood flow.

Physical therapy:

Your muscles and joints may not work well after a third degree burn. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Third Degree Burn (Inpatient Care)

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