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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Injuries and Wounds > Burns: Symptoms & Signs
      Category : Health Centers > Injuries and Safety


Burns | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the signs and symptoms of the injury?

First-degree burns are the least severe. They affect only the outer layer of the skin. The person may experience tingling and hypersensitivity of the skin. There may be pain that is soothed by cooling measures. The wound may appear reddened, but turn white briefly when pressed. The area is dry, with little or no swelling.

Second-degree burns affect both the outer and underlying layers of skin. Symptoms include pain, redness, swelling, and blistering. The wound may have a weeping surface.

Third-degree burns cause the deepest damage. The skin is affected. Subcutaneous tissue, connective tissue, muscle, or bone may also be damaged. The surface of the burn may be white and soft, or black, charred, and leathery. The burned area has no feeling when touched. Third-degree burns usually are not painful because the nerve endings in the skin have been destroyed. In the case of burns caused by electricity, there may be wounds at entry and exit sites.

Burns that cover less than 25% of the body surface area produce a primarily local response. If more than 25% of the BSA is affected, a systemic, or whole body, response will also occur. As fluid is lost, blood pressure drops, and the person may go into shock. When this happens, it is considered a major burn injury.

The location of a burn is important. Burns around the nose, mouth, or neck may indicate the danger of airway swelling and impairment. Full-thickness burns that go all the way around a limb may lead to poor blood circulation. Burns to the eyes require immediate treatment to prevent damage to vision or blindness.

Related symptoms of a burn are as follows:

  • abdominal pain
  • cloudy, red, or watery eyes
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness, which occurs with severe chemical exposure
  • visual impairments
  • Symptoms of an airway burn include the following:

  • burns to the head, face, and neck
  • coughing
  • mucus that is stained black or a dark color
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • wheezing

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    Burns: Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors


    Burns: Diagnosis & Tests

    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Barbara Mallari, RN, BSN, PHN
    Date Reviewed: 08/13/01

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