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Electrical Burns in Adults

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Electrical burns are injuries that are caused by an electric current. The electric current can pass through your body and damage tissues or organs. An electric current may also jump from an electrical source to you and burn your body.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call, or have someone call, your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You suddenly have trouble seeing or hearing.
  • You have shortness of breath.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have red or reddish black urine.
  • You have a fast heartbeat.
  • You have problems walking or keeping your balance.

Call your doctor if:

  • You are dizzy or weak.
  • You have stiff joints or muscle pain.
  • You are confused or have memory loss.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • Ointments may be placed on your burn area or be part of your bandage. These medicines prevent infection and help your burn heal.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your electrical burn:

  • Use bandages as directed. Bandages will cover your burn area to keep it moist and clean. Ask how often you should change your bandage. You may clean your burn with soap and water.
  • Go to physical therapy. Physical therapy will help prevent stiffness and muscle loss, and decrease pain.

Prevent an electrical burn:

  • Place socket covers on unused plugs. Use safety cords, such as circuit breakers or ground fault interrupters.
  • Wear protective clothing if you work with electricity.
  • Check electrical equipment to make sure it is running properly.

Follow up with your doctor or burn specialist as directed:

You may need to return to have your wound checked and your bandage changed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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 Electrical Burns in Adults (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.