Facing the global challenge of burns

Dressing changes can be a traumatic and extremely painful experience for burn patients

Burns are preventable. Despite this, they are a global public health issue that occur mainly in the home and work environments. In 2004, nearly 11 million people were burned severely enough to require medical attention.

In first world countries, the survival rate of serious burn victims has vastly improved.  In second and third world countries where the majority of burns occur (the South East Asia region accounts for almost half of the statistics) the child death rate is approximately seven times higher. This is primarily due to advances in both dressing technology and the overall quality of patient care healing.

Burn Injuries

Burn injuries comprise a challenging spectrum of acute, chronic, traumatic, and surgical wounds with a wide range of anatomical locations and depth. They arise as a result of thermal, chemical or electrical insult. There are three zones of tissue damage associated with burns: coagulation, stasis and hyperemia. Management is based on the amount, depth and severity of burns and by the designations of superficial, partial- and full-thickness injuries. Burn wounds are extremely painful, frequently highly traumatic and can lead to permanent scarring, disfigurement or even death. The main objectives of their treatment are to remove devitalized tissue, promote healing, prevent wound infection and graft loss, maintain function of the affected body part, and achieve wound closure as soon as possible.

Dressing types

A variety of dressing types are used to overcome the challenges associated with burns and the scars that subsequently form. The continuing development of materials and techniques now focus not only on successfully healing wounds and reducing scarring, but also on minimizing physical trauma and discomfort during treatment.

Mölnlycke Health Care is dedicated to providing solutions for both burn care professionals and their patients.

Making use of every advantage you have when treating burns makes sense. That's why you should consider using dressings with Safetac technology, which is proven to hurt less during dressing changes1.

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About Burns

Damage to the skin adversely affects these functions and places the individual at risk. Thermal injuries commonly referred to as “burns”, catastrophically compromise the integrity and protective function of the skin. Extensive burns can therefore represent one of the most life-threatening and life-altering events an individual is ever likely to face and place enormous demands on health care services. The majority of burns are thought to be small, though as many of these injuries are never reported to medical practitioners there is little data to support this belief (Hermans, 2005). However, even in limited burns injuries the compromised status of the skins integrity can provide a portal for bacterial ingress, pain remains a key feature and disfiguring scarring can result (Rockwell et al, 1989).

The severity of the actual burn injury is dependent on two factors; the size of the injury and the depth of tissue damaged by the heat source. Other events and health factors also need to be taken into account when estimating the severity of the injury on the individuals’ constitution such as inhalation injury (from smoke and hot gases inhaled at the time of trauma) associated trauma injuries, (such as limb fractures sustained trying to flee from the event) and underlying medical conditions.

Types of Burn
Burns can be caused in a number of different ways:
•    Direct contact with a hot object (contact)
•    Contact with a flame or superheated gas (flame)
•    Contact with a hot liquid (scald)
•    From the passage of a high voltage electrical current through tissues
•    Through exposure to chemicals
•    From exposure to a source of radiation.


1. White R. A multinational survey of the assessment of pain when removing dressings.  Wounds UK, 2008.

2. Tengvall O et al. Memories after burn injury – The patient’s experience. Journal of burn care & research Volume 31, Number 2.

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