Thermal Injury

Burns and scalds to children can be inflicted, occur accidentally, or follow neglect. The injury can be superficial or partial or full-skin thickness, depending on the temperature and duration of exposure.

3.2.1. Types of Thermal Injury For further information, see ref. 23.

• Scalds—immersion, pouring or throwing a hot liquid onto a child. The affected skin is soggy, blanched, and blistered. The shape of the injury is contoured. The depth of the burn is variable.

• Contact burns—direct contact of a hot object with the child. Characteristically, the burn is shaped like the hot object, with sharply defined edges and usually of uniform depth. The burn may blister.

• Fire burns—flames from fires, matches, or lighters in close or direct contact with the skin, causing charring and skin loss with singeing of hairs.

• Cigarette burns—inflicted direct contact leaves a characteristically well-demarcated circular or oval mark with rolled edges and a cratered center, which may blister and tends to scar. Accidental contact with a cigarette tends to leave a more superficial, irregular area of erythema with a tail.

• Electrical burns—small, deeply penetrating burns with an entry and exit wound with possible necrosis of underlying tissues.

• Friction burns—dragging or rubbing injury causing superficial skin loss, with broken blisters, usually on bony prominences.

• Chemical burns—the chemical in liquid form is drunk, poured, or splashed onto the skin, or in solid form is rubbed on the skin. The skin may stain, may have the appearance of a scald, and may scar.

• Radiant burns—more extensive areas of erythema and blistering on exposed body parts.

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