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Home > Personal Injury > Injury > Burns and scalds

Burns and scalds

Burns and scalds affect many thousands of people each year.

Every year, about 13,000 people in the UK suffer burns or scalds that are so serious that they require admission to hospital. Many thousands of others visit their local accident and emergency departments for treatment of less serious burns or scalds.

The difference between a burn and a scald

Scalding occurs when something wet, for example hot water or steam, touches the skin. A burn occurs when there is contact with extreme heat, for example an iron or fire.

Scalding and burns can both be very painful, causing blisters and the skin to become charred, black or red.

If you suffer a burn or scald, it is important not to burst the blister(s) as these form to protect the tissue underneath from further damage, and to allow it to heal. The fluid beneath the blister is called Serum and is what remains of the blood when red blood cells and clotting agents have been removed. If the blister bursts you should leave the dead skin on top and cover the blister and surrounding area with a dry, sterile dressing to avoid infection.

Compensation secured for woman burnt at restaurant

A woman has secured compensation after suffering a burn injury at a restaurant.

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Please select one of the links below for more information and to see whether Clear Answers may be able to help you make an accident compensation claim.

Causes of burns and scalds

Although most commonly associated with fire and steam, burns or scalds can occur through contact with a number of other materials or hazards, which include:

However, it is also possible to receive a burn from something very cold such as ice or the use of CO2 fire extinguishers.

If you or a member of your family have suffered a burn or scald through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to make a claim for accident compensation. An apology won't pay the bills. Compensation is intended to make sure you do not suffer financially through no fault of your own. Clear Answers may be able to help you - call us on 0800 783 9019 or complete one of our online accident compensation claim forms and a representative will contact you as soon as possible.

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Level of injury through burns and scalds

Burns are assessed according to how much damage has been done to your skin. There are three levels of burn that affect the layers of skin. They are referred to as 'degrees' of damage.

Superficial epidermal burns - First degree burns

A superficial burn will cause your skin to become red and slightly swollen. However as it affects only the outer layer of skin (the epidermis) which does not contain blood vessels, you should not develop blisters The epidermis consists of five layers of skin measuring approximately 0.5 to 1.5mm. The layers contain cells that work their way through to the top of the skin where, about every two weeks, the dead cells are shed.

Superficial dermal burns - Second degree burns

If the burn is more serious, there will be some damage to the dermis, the layer of fibrous tissue beneath the epidermis. Your skin will be pale pink and there will be some blistering. The dermis consists of three types of tissue and contains sweat glands, hair follicles and small blood vessels and nerves. There is a risk that someone with second degree burns may go into shock if the burn has affected more than 10% of their body, because of fluid loss.

A partial thickness burn (sometimes referred to as a deep dermal burn) will damage the full depth of the epidermis and the dermis. Depending upon whether there has been damage to the nerve endings, these burns can be very painful, or in some instances, you will feel no pain at all. Your skin may either be dry or moist, but will be swollen and blistered, leaving the skin red and blotchy.

Full thickness burns - Third degree burns

A burn where all three layers of skin are damaged, including the subcutaneous final layer of fat and tissue, is referred to as 'full thickness'. The thickness of this layer varies from person to person and contains larger blood vessels and nerves, and is responsible for regulating the temperature of skin and body. The skin may be burnt away and the tissue beneath pale or blackened. The texture of the skin may also be leathery or waxy. These burns usually leave permanent scarring and may require skin grafts. They will take a long time to heal.

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Accidents that cause burns and scalds

Burns and scalds frequently occur as the result of some form of accident. Accidents such as road accidents, accidents at work, or slips trips and falls in the office, in a shop or at school, can all lead to burns or scalds. Even a slip or trip in the workplace due to a spillage could result in scalding by hot liquids. Road accidents are associated with many types of injury such as whiplash but an accident that causes the airbag to deploy can also cause burn injuries to the face of either the driver or passenger.

Electrical burns may not always present serious visual damage, but this can be misleading. If you have suffered an electrical burn you should always visit your local A&E department. If a person is injured by a low-voltage supply (220-240 volts) it is safe to disconnect the electricity supply or, using a wooden chair or other non-conductive material, separate them from the electrical source. You should, rather than attempt to intervene, call the emergency services immediately if a person is connected to a high voltage source of 1,000 volts or more

Like electrical burns, chemical burns should be immediately treated by medical professionals. Immediate removal of clothing that has the chemical on it, brushing away any dry chemical, or removing traces of the chemical by using running water, will help prevent the burn becoming even more serious.

Exposure to the sun can be extremely serious and those working outdoor are more at risk of injury than most. Serious cases can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. At the first signs, which may include the skin becoming red, hot and painful, move to the shade, drink plenty of water, apply after-sun lotion, and take anti inflammatory pain relief to help. Other symptoms may include dizziness, a rapid pulse or being sick.

In some circumstances, burns can also be caused during surgery. Some equipment can burn or set fire to objects during the procedure.

For more information about burns and scalds, their symptoms and treatment, visit the NHS Choices website.

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Making a claim for accident compensation

If you or a member of your family has suffered a burn or scald injury in any type of accident, it is vital that you seek specialist advice as quickly as possible. Clear Answers' specialist personal injury solicitors can give guidance and assistance on whether it is possible to make a claim for accident compensation.

Our team of expert lawyers is waiting to help you, and will be happy to explain the claims process in plain English, and to answer any questions you may have regarding your accident claim.

If you would like Clear Answers to help you receive the accident compensation to which you are entitled, please telephone us now on 0800 783 9019 or complete our online compensation claim form and one of our representatives will contact you as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances of your accident and injury.

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