Feature Article

Children's burns: making a difference

Feature Article

Children's burns: making a difference

Hugh CO Martin

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Abstract

Burns are a common injury in the home. Their severity varies widely so it is important to be able to assess them. Correct treatment, particularly early after injury, will minimise the long term impact, and appropriate referral is important to optimise the outcome.

Key Points

  • Thermal injury provokes an inflammatory cascade that increases the depth of tissue destruction and changes the appearance of the burn in the first days after exposure.
  • Good first aid makes a major difference to the depth of injury, but is not without risk.
  • Many patients with burns can be managed in general practice.
  • Referral is needed for patients with large or deep burns, burns in special areas or evidence of infection, and in patients in whom nonaccidental injury is suspected; this should be done as early as possible.
  • Knowledge of the optimal conditions for wound healing and the characteristics of the multitude of dressings now available will allow a treatment plan to be made that fits best with the family’s practical and social situation.