What is the Treatment for Third-Degree Burns?

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  • Written By: C. Daw
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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The treatment for third-degree burns is a four stage process. The stages begin with the initial treatment, followed by steps to eliminate the chance for infections to set in. The third and fourth stages deal with cosmetic healing, such as ensuring that the skin heals properly and preventing scarring when possible. None of these stages can be done without the aid of a medical professional, and most physicians will recommend that the person with third-degree burns go to a burn center in certain circumstances in order to maximize the effectiveness of the four stages of treatments.

The first stage in the treatment for third-degree burns begins with the initial actions taken. An evaluation needs to be made to assess the severity of the burns, and if the airway has been restricted, an air tube will be inserted to ensure proper oxygen levels within the body. Intravenous lines will then be attached to offer proper hydration, which is the most common problem associated with these types of burns. Smaller burns can be treated with medications and ointments, while larger scale burns may require more aggressive measures, such as surgery. Burns that cover over 5% of the body will have to be dealt with in specialized burn treatment centers, but smaller burns can be treated effectively by any licensed medical provider.


The second stage of treatment involves eliminating the risk for infections, which is the leading cause of death from severe burns throughout the world. Cleaning the afflicted area is the first step. Since the burn will cause a decrease in blood flow to the tissue, the area will have to be cleaned and the sterile dressings replaced on a regular basis around the clock. Antibiotics will be pumped through the body by using intravenous lines or ointments, depending upon the severity of the burn, as well as the constant flow of hydrating liquids. Movement will also be restricted, which aids in the healing process. This is a vital stage in the treatment, as infected third-degree burns can cause serious medical complications, as well as death in some cases.

Proper skin healing is the third step of the process, but is the first step when it comes to cosmetic treatments. This treatment for third-degree burns will commence as soon as the major risks have been stabilized and the blood flow has returned. This process can involve skin grafts, which is skin taken from another area of the body and surgically attached to the afflicted area. If it is not possible to obtain enough skin from the patient, then donor skin will be used, or even compatible skins from animals or artificial production. The last two options are only temporary and will have to be removed. However, the idea of a skin graft is to place a layer of skin over the area so that the skin can heal on its own.

The final step in the treatment for third-degree burns is to reduce the amount of scarring. Most third-degree burn victims will have some scarring, but to reduce the amount and size it is important that wounds be sealed quickly and that the first and second stages are completed as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Using proper salves on the burns will increase healing while decreasing scaring as long as it is applied correctly and in a timely fashion. The final aspect of preventing excessive scarring is when skin grafts are done, and how expertly they are accomplished. A good surgeon can make the difference between large scarring and small scars that are not easily noticeable.


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Post 2

Can a third degree burn heal on its own. The burn is from wrist until above the elbow. The patient is an 84 year old man.

Post 1

For first aid purposes, once the victim is safely away from the burn source, call an ambulance! Tell the person the victim's age and sex and how the burn was caused (chemical, electrical, fire, etc.).

Then, elevate the burned area if possible, and cover with cool, moist cloths, like damp paper towels or similar.

Do not try to remove burned clothing from the area, and don't put the victim in cool water. The cloths, elevation and getting the person in an ambulance ASAP are the best, safest things a person can do to help someone with third degree burns. They are serious and the layman just doesn't have the medical training to deal with them safely.

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