A burn affects the skin of a person’s body with varying degrees of severity that generally lasts for a long time. Sometimes a burn may not be fatal, however, its prolongation may cause physical or emotional disability to a patient.
An estimate suggests that almost 450,000 American patients receive treatment for burn injuries in hospitals or emergency rooms each year. In addition, there are also patients who undergo treatment for the same in community health centers, private clinics, medical offices etc. Considering this, burn is the “third leading cause of deaths in the United States”, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Nowadays some activities in day-to-day life involve a risk of exposure to heat, which make us more prone to fall victim to a thermal burn. Apart from the burning pain, the confusion and apprehension surrounding it, also adds to the ordeal of suffering it.
What is a Thermal Burn?
A thermal burn is a burn to the skin by virtue of exposure to heat. The sources of external heat may range from a flame to a molten liquid. Further, if the skin comes in contact with hot objects like hot cooking pan or oven rack, one can also suffer an injury due to a thermal burn.
In order to gain an insight into how a thermal burn affects the skin, it is important to understand the skin’s composition. Our skin has two layers – an outer layer called the epidermis, and an inner layer called the dermis. The epidermis forms the thin outer layer with dead epithelial cells that are high in the protein, keratin. The epithelial cells depend upon the blood vessels of the dermis for a healthy supply of blood. The main function of the epidermis is to serve as a waterproof barrier. It also consists of a layer of cells that actively replaces the lost cells.
The dermis possesses numerous blood vessels, and forms a layer below the epidermis. Aside from blood vessels, it also comprises collagen, sweat glands, connective tissues with elastin, hair follicles, the endings of sensory nerves, etc. A fat layer with a connective tissue, hypodermis connects the skin with the muscle tissue and bone.
The depth and the affected surface area of the body constitute the important determinants of the severity of a burn. In other words, the severity of a burn is directly proportional to the surface area of the body that is affected, meaning more the surface area burnt, greater is the severity of a burn. Based upon this hypothesis, burns are classified into the following four categories – first degree burns, second degree burns, third degree burns, and fourth degree burns.
A first degree burn is characterized by a damage to the epidermis. A wound resulting from it generally heals in a short period. In case of a second degree burn, the damage may be either restricted to the upper layer of the dermis (superficial partial thickness)or it may go further beyond (deep partial thickness), both of them are accompanied by blisters. Complete healing may take weeks. In the worst-case scenario, it may also progress to a third degree burn. Skin grafting or excision may also be required in some cases.
A third degree burn causes serious harm to the dermis, thereby damaging the pain receptors completely. As a result, a person doesn’t feel the pain.
A fourth degree burn is the most severe form of burn which extends further into deeper tissues and bones. It additionally renders the skin incapable of rejuvenating on its own, which makes excision the only treatment option for a survivor.
What is HBOT?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a therapeutic treatment of inhalation of 100% of oxygen in an enclosed body chamber. The atmospheric pressure inside the chamber is increased by almost three times the normal barometric pressure. Touted as one of the most favorable treatment options at present, HBOT has been gaining popularity over the last decade.
What makes HBOT the real deal for patients is its simplicity, coupled with freedom from a painful surgery. Furthermore, it does not bear the risk of any major side effect.
Research indicates that the additional supply of oxygen that enters the body via HBOT, mingles with the plasma component of blood, and body fluids. The oxygenated blood then reaches those parts of body that are devoid of it. This boosts up the supply of oxygen to those parts, and as a result, the dormant cells start functioning in the usual manner.
The replenishment of the oxygen-deficient parts of the body with pure oxygen boosts the healing ability of the body and redeems its defense mechanism. It stimulates the capacity of the white blood cells to fight against harmful bacteria. To sum up, HBOT improves the quality of a patient’s life.
HBOT is a favorable treatment option for those who have exhausted the other treatment options without any fruitful outcome. Some healthcare providers also recommend it in conjunction with other treatment options.
How HBOT Helps Treat a Thermal Burn
An injury due to a burn can land a patient to lifelong difficulties, including significant disfigurement, physical disabilities, loss of employment, etc. These can change the life of a patient overnight.
A study indicates that when HBOT is used as an adjunct to another treatment, it checks the progression of the damage resulting from a thermal burn. The extra amount of oxygen that enters into the body, reaches the cells of the affected parts.
The oxygen dissolved in blood minimizes swelling, prevents lung damage, and eliminates the need for a surgery. Thus, it shortens the stay of a patient in a hospital, apart from cutting down on the expenses for their treatment.
The FDA has approved HBOT for the treatment of thermal burns which adds to its safety. Moreover, it is carried out in the presence of a qualified and trained practitioner. Therefore, if you’re considering to receive the therapy, you can give it a try without being worried about it.