Accidental burns are one of the most common household injuries, often arising from exposure to hot surfaces or liquids. Yet, burns can also be caused by exposure to certain chemicals, electricity, sunlight, or fire. While the majority of accidental burns are minor, and can be treated at home – some burns require immediate medical treatment.
Types of Burns
Burns vary in severity depending on how many layers of skin are damaged. For example:
- First degree burns affect only the top layer of skin, known as the epidermis.
- Second degree burns extend partially into the dermis.
- Third degree burns damage the entire dermal layer.
- Fourth degree burns extend beyond the skin into the fat, muscle, and bone.
In addition, the amount of skin, or total surface area, damaged by a burn can also impact its severity.
Sex Differences in Burn Prevalence and Treatment Outcomes
According to the American Burn Association, burn injuries are more common in men than women (68% vs. 32%, respectively). However, a recent study published in the journal Burns & Trauma, found that women are less likely to survive from a serve burn injury compared to men . The authors examined the medical records of over 300 patients admitted to a hospital burn unit with similar burn severity and total amount of skin affected. They found that women were two times more likely to die from a burn injury, compared to men of the same age. Systemic infections, such as sepsis, are a leading cause of death following a severe burn injury. The authors suggest that sex differences in immune response following a severe burn could differ between men and women, but caution that additional research is needed to support their clinical observations.
Karimi et al., Burns Trauma. 2017;5:18. doi: 10.1186/s41038-017-0083-y. eCollection 2017.