By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute
The number of children who have been burned has fallen over the last 10-20 years. However, burns are still frequent among small children. Half of all burns are caused by scalding from boiling water, hot coffee, hot food or hotplate – all taking place in the kitchen. Another frequent cause of burns is open fire.
The temperature at a scalding is surprisingly low. 54 degrees warm water cause deep burns in only 30 seconds. However, also water just 44 degrees warm can, through longer exposure, damage the child.
Burns are divided into degrees depending on how deep the damage is:
1st degree burn
Only reaches the upper layer of the skin. Appears by redness in the skin and pains. A typical example is sunburn.
2nd degree burn
Reaches all layers of the skin. Appears by pains, redness, swelling of the skin and blisters. The blisters are cavities filled with fluid right beneath the skin – like bubbles on the skin. A typical example is scalding with hot coffee or tea.
3rd degree burn
Reaches below the skin – into fat and muscle. Appears by a crust that can be white or brown that covers a deep wound. There is no redness or blisters. A 3rd degree burn doesn’t hurt because the nerves are destroyed. A typical example is a burn from open fire or boiling water.
1st degree burns do not cause prolonged nuisances. Besides from smarting in the area for 1 to 2 days there are no nuisances. A 2nd degree burn heals in 2 to 3 weeks depending on how big and deep the burn is. The deep 2nd degree burns heals with a scar while the more superficial burns heal without a scar. A 3rd degree burn cannot heal, either skin graft must be performed or the wound shrinks with severe scarring as a consequence.