The Long-Term Complications of Burn Injuries
Whether you come in contact with some type of hot liquid, electricity, or friction with a chemical, one thing is for certain: a burn injury can happen. Many people underestimate the seriousness of a burn injury. There is a reason why it is considered a catastrophic injury, both at the time of the accident and as a result of complications in the future.
When a person comes in contact with a hot surface, they can experience significant damage to the layers of their skin. The severity of the burn injury depends on several factors, like the type and temperature of the substance that the person came in contact with, as well as the amount and area of skin affected.
What layers of skin can be injured from a burn?
The skin is the body’s first layer of defense. Our skin protects us from thousands of infections and illnesses. However, when our skin experiences a burn, the injury can affect our skin’s ability to protect the rest of our bodies. The first layer of our skin is the epidermis, which is the top layer of skin. When this layer of skin endures damage, it usually stems from a first-degree burn. The next layer is the dermis, which is a thicker underlayer of skin.
Because there are nerve endings near the dermis, a person experiences pain with a second-degree burn, which damages both the dermis and the epidermis. The next layer is the hypodermis, which is the layer of skin that helps regulate the body’s temperature. When a burn reaches this layer of skin, the damage can be so severe that a person cannot feel the pain from the injury. This is considered a third-degree burn.
What is the initial treatment for a burn injury?
The severity of a burn injury determines the treatment the victim will need. For example, a first-degree burn requires a daily cleaning of the wound with soap and water. Over-the counter ointments like Neosporin can also be applied to the burn.
Second-degree burns, on the other hand, require compression of the wound in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes. If a person is experiencing blisters, experts advise not to break them, as this can lead to infection. With a second-degree burn, the victim is at risk of suffering from shock. If possible, cover the person with a blanket or coat and elevate the injured area above the person’s heart.
Out of all burn injuries, a third-degree burn requires the most intervention from medical professionals. Without the assistance of emergency medical services, a person can suffer serious consequences or even die from these types of burns. Some of the types of treatment procedures for a third-degree burn include fluid resuscitation, long-term care management, skin grafting, pain medications, cosmetic reconstruction, and even a high-protein diet to help with recovery.
What are the potential lifelong consequences of a burn injury?
When you or a loved one have suffered from a burn injury, the pain does not stop once you have received treatment for your injuries. The scarring that results from serious burns will require in-home medical care following treatment. Even after the scar tissue becomes thicker and stronger over time, that process can also cause problems for you in your daily life. The recovery can cause you to experience issues performing routine, everyday tasks.
Scar tissue damage can cause you to experience physical and psychological issues following treatment. The damage from a third-degree burn, for example, can destroy a person’s sweat glands, making a person more susceptible to heat stroke. A person’s ability to prevent infection and bacteria from entering the body is also compromised due to a third-degree burn.
Even after the physical scars from severe burns heal, the psychological scars will take longer to overcome. Victims of burn injuries may have to come to terms with disfigurement issues and body image issues. The trauma of a burn injury can also cause victims to experience anxiety and depression, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the accident.
Can burn injuries cause delirium?
Another complication of burn injuries is the development of delirium in patients. Delirium - the interruption of a person’s mental abilities, leading to confused thinking and reduced awareness - is the most common neurological side effect of severe burn injuries. After a burn injury, a person can experience three types of delirium: hyperactive, hypoactive, and mixed.
- Hyperactive delirium. A person experiences this type of delirium when they begin to agitated and restless. People who experience hyperactive delirium tend to experience abrupt mood changes and hallucinations. They may have an issue cooperating with medical staff and attempt to try and get out of bed while attached to a medical device.
- Hypoactive delirium. A patient can experience this type of delirium when they are more sluggish and tired than usual. Patients who experience hypoactive delirium have a hard time recognizing their loved ones and engage in slow or limited activity.
- Mixed delirium. This type of delirium is a combination of the previous types of delirium. Patients who experience mixed delirium switch back and forth between the different symptoms.
The Los Angeles burn injury attorneys at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP are dedicated to handling complex and catastrophic cases related to serious injuries in California. We have helped reach multi-million dollar verdicts for our clients against large private and public organizations; settlements and verdicts that can help an injured person put his or her life back together. Call our office at 310-474-1582, or complete our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation remote consultation.
Please note that this blog is not to be construed as legal advice. Because every case is fact-specific, you should consult directly with an attorney to obtain legal advice specific to your situation.
For more than three decades, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has built a reputation as one of California’s leading law firms. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, John McNicholas and sons, Patrick and Matthew, have tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict on behalf of clients. Learn More about McNicholas & McNicholas