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Third degree burns or full thickness burns are a very serious threat to mortality. Even when a small body surface area is burned this can be life threatening. The epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layers of the cutaneous membrane are destroyed. The underlying muscle tissue, nervous tissue, blood vessels and lymphatics have been obliterated.
Establishing a patent airway is the first and foremost treatment. Airway compromise is common because of the intense heat generated by the fire or combustible material. Tracheal edema may quickly cause respiratory distress.
Third degree burns justify an admission to a critical care unit, preferably a burn unit. If a burn unit is not in the immediate vicinity, physician to physician transfer as soon as possible is recommended.
A major cause of death from third degree burns is systemic infection. Measures should be taken to isolate the patient. Intravenous antibiotics will be prescribed as well as massive amounts of intravenous fluids to replace fluids lost in the burned tissues. Circulatory collapse and hypotension are intial concerns. If the patient survives, attention will be given to surgical procedures to mend the tissues. Skin grafts, if indicated, will come later in treatment.
Third degree burns are very serious and require immediate medical attention. When a person has a third degree burn it means that all layers of the skin have been burned. In addition, tissues and muscles may be burned as well.
After 911 has been called, it is important to make sure that you not attempt to remove any clothing. Clothing is often burned into the tissues and removing it could cause further damage. Also, do not apply any water to the burn. You need to check and make sure that the person is breathing and if they are not, CPR needs to be performed. It is also important to elevate the parts of the body that are burned if that is possible.
Once the person is in the hospital, the burn will be given time to heal. The person will also receive IV fluid for rehydration. If there is damage to the lungs then the person may need a breathing tube. Sometimes, these patients are placed into a hyperbaric chamber which is a room that is rich in oxygen. In addition, the person is placed on antibiotics. and the burn is checked frequently. Dead tissue will also be removed surgically. Many times people with these serious burns need skin grafts.
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