The assessment of burns can be difficult for even experienced clinicians. Knowledge
of the burning agent provides a valuable clue. It is documented that exposure to flames or electrical current almost always results in
a full thickness burn. Being scalded with water usually produces a partial thickness burn. It has been seen that if the scalding fluid
is fat, the burn is almost certainly full-thickness.
The severity of a burn is comparative to both the intensity of the burning agent and
the length of time of its contact on the body. Try to establish the temperature of scalding fluids, the voltage and type of electrical
current and the concentration of chemical agents. Electrical contact burns caused by alternating currents are often more serious. The
effects of a burning agent can be limited by prompt first-aid.
The depth of a burn is judged by its look, texture and sensitivity. It can be difficult
to differentiate between erythema and superficial partial thickness burns particularly if the burn survivor is seen soon after the injury.
That is when blister formation is minimal. Partial thickness burns can be identified if the skin is rubbed firmly, causing separation at
the dermo-epidermal connection. Flash burns whether caused by electrical or from a vapor, are usually very surface burns. They are often
mistaken as deep burns because of the existence of carbon-staining.
Assessment of the depth of a burn is difficult to diagnose in the first 24 hours after
injury. It is suggested that the burns be re-examination after 24 hours due to the fact that the signs are
well established by this time. This allows the doctors to make definitive decisions about
the burn management.