Holiday decorations, a busy kitchen, fireplaces and space heaters — these are just some of the common sources of burn injuries that often turn a festive time of year into a time of excruciating pain and sometimes even a fight for life.
Hospitals across the U.S. typically report a significant spike in the number of patients seeking emergency treatment for burn injuries between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cooking injuries are the most common holiday-related injuries hospitals see each year, with scalding being the most frequent type of burn injury.
Scalding is the most common type of bun injury among children, who often reach onto counters and stovetops for pots and pans. Open flames are the leading cause of burns among adults.
Burn injuries of any kind should always be taken seriously because they affect the skin – the body’s largest organ that serves as a breathable protective shield against infection. Burn injuries can destroy healthy cells and destroy the skin’s underlying tissue.
Awareness of the different types of burn injuries and their sources can help people keep themselves, their children, and pets safe this throughout the holidays.
First degree burns affect the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer. Second-degree burns harm the epidermis and the underlying layer called the dermis. Third-degree burns penetrate the full depth of skin and almost always require skin transplants or grafts to heal.
Open flames, scalding liquids, hot metal, and steam are some external heat sources that can cause thermal burns, which can cook the skin and cause cell death and charring. Conversely, another type of thermal burn can be caused by excessive and prolonged exposure to cold air, liquids, or objects. These types of burns are commonly known as frostbite.
Radiation burns are caused by excessive, prolonged exposure to sunlight and other forms of radiation, such as x-rays.
Acids, alkali, and various detergents and solvents that contact the skin can cause chemical burns.
Exposure to electrical currents, either alternating (AC) or direct (DC), can cause electrical burn injuries. Lightning strikes are also a source of electrical burns.