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Burns of the hand

What are burns of the hand?

The hand is extremely susceptible to burns because of its very function. Burns are often sustained as the result of cooking accidents, or industrial accidents, and while burns to the hand are often isolated, they can also be part of a larger, much more serious burn of the arms or sometimes even the whole body. Burns can be present in four different degrees, first degree being the least serious, causing redness but little blistering, all the way to fourth degree, wherein the burn extends far below the surface and can affect even tendons and bones.

What causes burns to the hand?

First degree burns are typified by sunburn, and this is often the case on the hands. They can also be caused by friction, or very isolated contact with dry or wet heat or chemicals. Second degree burns (among the more common for hands), are caused by direct exposure to open flame, boiling liquids or chemicals. Second degree burns can also be caused by sunburns, but this can be avoided with proper use of sunblock. Third degree burns are much more severe, and are usually the result of extended contact with flame, corrosive chemicals, immersion in boiling liquid, or electricity.

What are symptoms of burns to the hand?

First degree burns are typified by slight redness. Second degree burns show up as extreme redness and a large amount of blistering on the skin, as well as fluid suppuration. Third degree burns often greatly disfigure the hand, and the skin can appear cracked, leathery and black. The tissue death extends down to beyond the skin and fat to underlying nerves and tendons. The nerve receptors die in the most severe cases, so third degree burns often cause less pain than second or even first. Third degree burns can also cause a person to go into shock, typified by confusion, nausea and rapid breathing.

How to diagnose of burns to the hand

To assess the severity of a burn to the hand, the doctor will take a detailed history of the injury, and by learning the cause and associated symptoms, it will make it easier to determine the proper course of treatment.

Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatment of burns to the hand

First degree burns can usually be treated with analgesic creams and pain medication, and seldom require more than a week to heal. Second degree burns may be treated in a variety of ways. Sometimes, the blisters are trimmed, but that is not always the case, and opened blisters require the application of topical creams such as Silvadene, and antibiotics. It is also helpful to splint the affected hand or arm to prevent the development of stiffness in the limb.

Surgical treatment of burns to the hand

Third degree burns often require that the affected skin be removed and replaced with grafted skin from either an unaffected part of the body or from a donor. After splinting for the healing process, intensive therapy is necessary to restore full movement and flexibility to the hand.

How can Dr. Knight help you with burns to the hand?

While minor burns to the hand can be an inconvenience, more sever burns can be debilitating and painful, and should be treated as soon and as thoroughly as possible, to avoid further complications. Dr. Knight has treated many burns in the course of his practice, and will work with you to develop the most comprehensive course of treatment to bring your hand back to proper function.

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