Most burns occur in the home, at work, or are part of an injury from a motor vehicle accident. All burns, even minor ones, may cause complications if not properly treated. Our skin is the natural barrier to infection, and burns destroy that protection, so treatment usually involves preventing or treating infections. The severity levels for burns include:
- First Degree Burn: affects only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, and causes pain and redness. Comparable to mild sunburn.
- Second Degree Burn: extends through and affects the second layer of skin, the dermis, and cause pain, redness and blisters that may ooze.
- Third Degree Burn: affects both the epidermis and dermis and may extend damage to the subcutaneous tissues, the hypodermis. Burn site appears charred, pale or leathery but there is no pain due to destroyed nerve endings.
- Fourth Degree Burn: extends through the skin and subcutaneous tissues and into the underlying muscle and bone. Burn site appears charred and stiff.
Burns and Wound Care Treatments
As a national Center of Excellence in burn reconstruction, our team at the National Burn Reconstruction Center at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital continue to raise public awareness of treatments available to burn survivors. At the Center, we provide comprehensive rehabilitation services, which are accredited by The Joint Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and we are able to treat a wide variety of burn injuries, ranging from mild to very serious.
While minor burns may be treatable at home, all other burns require immediate emergency medical attention because of the risk of infection, dehydration and other complications. All burns covering a large body surface area are considered an emergency and should be treated at the hospital immediately. Our doctors will focus on keeping the burned area clean and removing any dead tissue using a process called debridement. You will also receive medications that help reduce pain and prevent infection.
If our specialists decide that reconstructive surgery is the best method of treatment, they will most likely recommend for patients to have skin grafting. During this treatment, the surgeon places skin substitutes over a burn or non-healing wound to permanently replace damaged or missing skin or provide a temporary wound covering. A skin graft not only improves the function and appearance of the wound, but also stimulates healing by triggering skin cell growth in the wound site. The size, nature and extent of the injury or deformity will determine what treatment option is chosen and how quickly surgery is performed. Though reconstructive surgery frequently demands complex planning and may require a number of procedures completed in stages, it may also be a simple and straightforward procedure. A thorough evaluation will help determine the amount or extent of surgery needed. To learn more about reconstructive surgery, wound care and other treatments, visit our pages on plastic surgery, skin procedures and wound care.
MedStar Good Samaritan's extensive rehabilitation services enable us to provide complete care for patients with the late effects of burn injuries. Our goal is to provide patients with every opportunity to heal, inside and out, and help them regain their quality of life and whole sense of self. We accomplish this by reducing the visibility of burn scars, correcting dysfunction, and providing access to counseling and support services to help resolve the psychological and social issues that often accompany scarring.
- Leigh Ann Price, MD, Director
- Robert J. Spence, MD, FACS, Founder
Watch the video below to see how the Burn Reconstruction Center helps patients heal and regain their quality of life.
In the Press
Dr. Leigh Ann Price has been featured in the Catholic Review for the exceptional reconstructive care she provided for a teenage patient who suffered burns on more than 25 percent of the front of her body. Read the full article here.