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Questions relationg to the Healing from a Burn Injury:

  • How long does it take for the burns to heal?

    First degree burns usually heal within 3-6 days. Second degree burns usually heal within 10-14 days. Deep second degree burns usually take 3-4 weeks to heal. Third and fourth degree burns usually require surgery and the healing time depends on several issues.

  • What is a skin graft?

    Skin graft is a surgical procedure that is performed on a burn that is too deep to heal. Healthy skin is removed from an unburned part of the body. This is called the donor site. The skin is then put through a machine and placed on the burned area. The area that is being grafted must be immobilized for five days in order to allow the graft to take.

  • How long will it take for the healing to finish?

    If hypertrophic scar tissue developes, the skin that is burned will usually take one to three years to heal 100%. During the healing process pressure garments and plastic orthoses are used in order to help speed up the healing process.

    When the pink color fades in the burned areas, the healing process is usually complete. This takes six to twelve months and usually occurs when thick scars do not form.

  • Why do I suffer from so much pain?

    When an individual is burned, there are two different types of pain. The first type of pain is called background pain. Background pain is rated from 0 to 10 as a 2 or 3 and is dealable.

    The second type of pain is the excruciating, and is not tolerable. The burn survivor feels this pain during wound cleansing, dressing changes, rehabilitation therapy, or just rolling in bed. Most burn survivors have stated that this type of pain is the worst pain they ever had to deal with.

    Methadone and Morphone IV are usually used to help relieve the pain. Methadone controls the background pain and Morphine IV is used for acute pain. Relaxation techniques in conjunction with medications often help relieve pain.

    To learn more go to: BSTTW Pain Articles List

  • Why do I itch?

    It is not unusual for a burn survivor to itch. The itch may be a tingling feeling caused by nerves regrowing, or from dry skin caused by the lack of natural oil production due to oil glands being damaged or destroyed by the burn.

  • How do I stop or control the itch?

    Many burn survivors have found over the counter skin lotions that have helped them.

    Several of the lotions are: Swedish skin care, ConvaTec Sensi-Care and ConvaTec Aloe Vesta.

    Burn survivors have also taken prescription medication.

    1. Apply lotion 4 - 6 times each day. 2. Wear tight pressure garments. 3. Avoid alcohol or activities which make you perspire.

    BSTTW suggests that you speak with your doctor on which would be best for you.

  • Why are my burns opening and/or getting blisters?

    Grafted areas are not as thick as your normal skin. This is the main reason why it can open up.

    When the burn site first heals, the epidermis, which is the outer skin layer is not completely attached to the deeper layers of the skin. Since newly healed skin is very fragile, open areas, tears, and blisters are a common issues.

    Many burn survivors loose small areas of skin graft due to the build up of fluid under the graft. This usually happens immediately after surgery.

  • Why is my skin very tight?

    When the burned area extends over a joint, maintaining your range of motion will be a challenge.

    During the skin healing maturation phase, if the skin is not streched, the skin contracture can become permanant. This will limit your range of motion. Usually for 12 to 18 months a burn survivor skin length will need to be promoted. As your skin matures, it should soften and feel looser. Many burn survivors have had surgical release in order to loosen the contracture.

  • Why am I hot and/or cold a lot?

    After the burn your body internally and externally suffered. For many burn survivors this condition remains for years to the rest of their life.

  • Why do I have a lot of trouble sleeping?

    Most burn survivors have problems sleeping while they are in the hospital and at home. This usually occurs due to medical and psychological issues.

  • Why do I have nightmares?

    After suffering a traumatic injury, many burn survivors suffer nightmares. The nightmares can last one to two weeks and at times they last for years. When the nightmares last for more than 2-4 weeks, the burn survivor is usually suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If this occurs, you should contact your primary care doctor and possibly have a psychological evaluation.

  • Why am I depressed and/or anxious?

    Suffering from depression and anxiety for a period of time after the burn injury is not surprising.

    You may bounce from things being easy to deal with to our of control. These emotional ups and downs will pass and then reappear, but the time between these sad and normal feelings eventually will get longer. It is extreamly important to have a family member or friend offer the burn survivor love, care and support. The burn survivor needs to have someone to talk to and release the emotional pain. This will help the burn survivor to let go and learn how to cope.

    If the depression and/or anxiety lasts for more than 2-4 weeks, it would be best for the burn survivor to speak with a psychiatist for possible medication and counseling.

  • Why do I have to wear pressure garments?

    Pressure garments offer compression against scars. It is believed that this helps to flatten and soften hypertrophic scarring. It has also been seen that compression from the pressure garments decreases itching.

  • Why do I have to wear my pressure garments and face mask 24/7?

    The mechanism for scar formation is active twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It is important that compression therapy is done 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to reach the optimal cosmetic outcome.

  • How long will I need my pressure garments and/or face mask?

    Most burn survivors wear the pressure garments and/or facial mask for one to two years. Since each person is an individual and their hormones differ due to thier age, the normal growth in children contributes to hypertrophic scar development. Children may need to use compression garments for a longer period of time.

  • How long must I keep my hands and/or legs elevated?

    Once the the positioning is no longer a part of the therapy program, or the swelling is controled the doctor will state that it is no longer necessary.

  • Why do I have to walk if my legs are burned?

    By standing and walking, you are encouraging blood flow and circulation to your legs. This should help the wounds to heal faster.

    It has been see that exercise usually helps prevent complications such as contractures and blood clots in legs. Walking and exercise is important for total recovery, especially to the areas affected by the burn.

  • What products, perfumes, bug sprays should I use on my skin?

    It is important to use skin products that do not use alcohol or perfumes. These types of skin products are generally less irritating.

    Many burn survivors have tried a small amount of the product on a small area of the skin in order to check for any type of reachtion and/or irritation. If no problems develop, application on a larger area should be fine.

  • Will taking vitamins help the healing process of my burn?

    A healthy, balanced diet offers the vitamins needed for recovery. Many burn survivors have taken vitamin supplements and found that it did not hurt and many state that it did help their healing process. Remember that there is no evidence that vitamin supplements will change the rate of healing.

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