Think About It

A third-degree burn may be surrounded by painful areas of first- and second-degree burns, but the region of the third-degree burn is painless. Explain the reason for this lack of pain.

Saladin: Anatomy & 6. The Integumentary Text © The McGraw-Hill

Physiology: The Unity of System Companies, 2003

Form and Function, Third Edition

The two most urgent considerations in treating a burn patient are fluid replacement and infection control. A patient can lose several liters of water, electrolytes, and protein each day from the burned area. As fluid is lost from the tissues, more is transferred from the bloodstream to replace it, and the volume of circulating blood declines. A patient may lose up to 75% of the blood plasma within a few hours, potentially leading to circulatory shock and cardiac arrest—the principal cause of death in burn patients. Intravenous fluid must be given to make up for this loss. A burn patient also requires thousands of extra calories daily to compensate for protein loss and the demands of tissue repair. Supplementary nutrients are given intravenously or through a gastric tube.

Infection is controlled by keeping the patient in an aseptic (germ-free) environment and administering antibiotics. The eschar is sterile for the first 24 hours, but then it quickly becomes infected and may have toxic effects on the digestive, respiratory, and other systems. Its removal, called debridement37 (deh-BREED-ment), is essential to infection control.

Before You Go On

Answer the following questions to test your understanding of the preceding section:

16. What types of cells are involved in each type of skin cancer?

17. Which type of skin cancer is most dangerous? What are its early warning signs?

18. What is the difference between a first-, second-, and third-degree burn?

19. What are the two most urgent priorities in treating a burn victim? How are these needs dealt with?

Insight 6.5 Clinical Application

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  • richard
    What are the two most urgent priorities in treating a burn victim?
    6 years ago

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