Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Burns: Types and Treatments


Types of Burns

You know that fire and steam can singe your skin, and if you've ever been sloshed with hot liquid, then you know how much a scald can hurt. However, there are many burns that don't involve flames or even heat.

Children are highly burn-prone, and there are thousands of reports of pediatric burns every year [source: National Burn Repository]. Many of these burns take place in the kitchen, where liquids boil and toxic cleaners lurk. These cleaners can cause dangerous chemical burns, whether internally if ingested or externally if spilled on the skin.

Because small children tend to operate at outlet-level, they're also prone to electrical burns. And even adults can sometimes forget or not realize that frayed or exposed wiring can send out a jolt, too. To limit your chances of any shocking outcomes, hire an electrician to handle any home electrical work, baby-proof your outlets, and keep all your cords and plugs in good repair.

If you've ever gotten home from a day at the swimming pool looking more like a lobster than a human, then you can probably guess how a radiation burn feels. You can get this type of burn from having too much fun in the sun -- or from spending too much time in a tanning bed [source: Knissl]. Radiation therapy, used to treat some forms of cancer, can also produce internal and external burns.

Finally, friction burns are actually a combination of abrasion and a heat burn, and they can leave skin feeling especially raw. Athletes -- particularly bikers -- are prone to getting themselves into this sort of scrape, which is why it's important to suit up properly while sporting or cavorting [source: Knissl].

Even minor burns can require special care. On the next page, you'll find tips for assessing the severity of a burn and ways how to respond after a scathing spill.


More to Explore