Pain treatment for burns can be difficult as burns vary in type and severity. Burns cause pain due to injury of nerve endings and specialized receptors in the skin.
Pain can occur immediately after burns, can be related to procedures such as dressing change or can develop into chronic pain.
All types of burns such as from dry heat (such as fire), wet heat (such as steam or hot liquids), radiation, friction, heated objects, the sun, electricity, or chemicals are painful.
The severity of pain is not related to the severity of the burn as the most serious burns (third degree burns) can be painless. Symptoms of burns other than pain include reddening of the epidermis, swelling and blistering.
Burns can be diagnosed clinically but it can be hard to tell the difference between degrees of burn. Tests in burns are usually done to rule out complications such as dehydration, infection, or disturbance of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium.
Treatment of pain in burns can be difficult as it can cause intense and prolonged types of pain. Besides the pain due to burns, there is pain during treatment of burns as the wounds must be cleansed and the dressings changed. Management of burn pain can often be inadequate requiring more pain medications. Aggressive treatment for pain is required in burns.
Most burns are accidental and can be prevented. Devices such as smoke alarms, temperature control of water heaters at home, fire and smoke resistance inherent in building construction can help to prevent burns.
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