Depth of burn – Summary

In summary, assessing the depth of a burn is necessary to determine what the patient needs immediately, and what they may require going forwards in their management.

The distinction between epidermal burns (erythema) and those that are deeper is necessary as epidermal burns are excluded from the %TBSA calculation when deciding on the need for resuscitation and fluid management.

The distinction between full thickness burns and anything more superficial is necessary as those with full thickness burns, depending on location, are at risk of ventilatory problems or limb ischaemia and may require urgent surgical intervention.

Learning bite:

The distinction between different types of partial thickness burns is not clinically relevant to the emergency practitioner. Only the inclusion of full thickness, and exclusion of epidermal burns aids in management.

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