Car accidents frequently cause many serious personal injuries, but of these one of the most painful and difficult is often the burn injury. Burn injuries in a car accident often tend to be severe, because when these injuries do occur they tend to be caused by a high-temperature fuel-fed fire which can cause very serious injury. Burn injuries sustained in a car accident can sometimes cover a large part of the victim’s body.
When a car accident patient arrives in the emergency room with a burn injury, doctors and burn specialists will try to determine how deep and pervasive the injury is. Usually, when a burn covers a larger area, the center of the burned area will sustain the most damage and have the deepest burn. Burn specialists in the hospital will very quickly have to evaluate the severity and depth of the burn in order to determine the appropriate course of treatment.
Hospitals will need to determine whether a burn is affecting any internal organs or a patient’s airway. When a patient has experienced damage to the pulmonary system as a result of their burn and has heat exposure damage as well as smoke inhalation, the burn may prove fatal. However, there are several types of burns, each with their own challenges to physicians:
1) A superficial burn occurs when a burn causes injury to only the top layer of skin. This is the most mild form of burn and it can occur even with a sunburn. Usually, this type of burn injury takes about a week to heal and there is usually minimal or no scarring at all. This type of burn usually heals quite well because only the top, thin layer of skin is affected and the body usually replaces this layer regularly anyway.
2) A partial thickness or dermal injury occurs when burn damage penetrates to the second layer of skin, which is called the dermis. This type of burn injury usually requires scarring. More severe burn injuries affecting the dermis may require skin grafts.
3) A full thickness injury occurs when a burn injury affects the subcutaneous tissue or third layer of the skin. This burn injury is more severe because this layer includes fat. In this injury, three layers of skin are damaged, along with sweat glands, hair follicles, and areas where new skin cells are made. For this reason, these burns will not heal on their own without severe scarring. These burns can be quite painful and usually require extensive care as well as skin grafts. Complications such as infections are more common with these burns.
4) A full thickness burn with injury to the underlying muscle occurs when burns injure the muscle and tissues under the skin layer. These types of burn injuries can penetrate very deep and affect ligaments and even organs. For this reason, they can often pose a threat to a patient’s life. They usually require critical care, surgical procedures, rehabilitation, and repeat plastic surgeries during the recovery process. These injuries are most likely to result on complications, loss of mobility, and chronic pain.