Each year nearly half a million Americans seek burn treatment, and thousands of those patients are sent to the Arizona Burn Center – Valleywise Health. With the proper burn remedies and treatment from our experts, most patients eventually recover and return to their everyday lives.
Learn how to treat a burn, as well as how to successfully prevent them, with these expert tips from Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health.
About the Arizona Burn Center
Just like trauma care, burn care in the United States is regionalized. That means there are only a few centers of excellence placed in strategic locations around the country. When people get sick with that particular condition, they’re sent to an institution with the necessary experts and resources to treat these specialized issues.
As the largest burn center in the West — and the only nationally verified facility in the state — the Arizona Burn Center treats burn patients from Arizona and many other states, including New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. We have served as a valuable community resource since the late 1960s, providing burn remedies for people in Phoenix and far beyond.
Each year, the Arizona Burn Center admits about 1,000 patients to the hospital and treats an additional 6,000 in the emergency department and outpatient center. Since burn care is so specialized, we have a wide range of experts on our team — like surgeons, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists and more. Our doors are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Who Visits the Arizona Burn Center?
At the Arizona Burn Center, we treat a wide variety of patients with unique injuries and conditions. Here are the most common situations we encounter:
- Minor burn injuries, usually due to hot liquid scalds or flames from cooking, recreational activities or industrial jobs. We don’t see many house fire patients anymore due to effective in-home fire safety measures.
- Severe burns that require surgery, as well as post-operative and traumatic wounds.
- Community-related incidents like explosions, large fires and other disasters, during which our team treats large numbers of patients at once.
- Summertime injuries caused by the Arizona heat. Many people seriously burn themselves on hot surfaces like steering wheels, pavement and seating.
- Reconstruction for those with soft tissue diseases like necrotizing fasciitis and unusual skin conditions, such as Valleywise Health or toxic epidural necrolysis syndrome.
Burn Recovery Time
Recovering from a burn takes longer than you may think. Healing time depends on the intensity of the burn and how many surgeries it requires. For a substantial burn, you could expect to stay in the hospital for anywhere from two to four months and have up to 30 surgeries during that time. You may even be put into a drug-induced coma for a few weeks. After undergoing these burn remedies in acute care, it takes double that amount of time or more to completely rehabilitate. Although this is a very long process, the good news is that you will likely be able to return to normal life when it’s all said and done.
How to Avoid Burn Injuries
Most burns are preventable, so here are some tips for keeping yourself safe around the house:
- Keep young children out of the kitchen.
- Use the back burners of the stove and turn the handles in.
- Use oven mitts or a towel when reaching over your head to get your food out of the microwave.
- Protect yourself when you go outside during the summer. Some objects exposed to the sun can reach up to 180 degrees and cause instant burns.
- Use extreme caution with grills, propane heaters and fireplaces.
How To Treat a Burn at Home
These at-home burn remedies can help you stop the burning process before you get to the hospital:
- Extinguish flames or any type of exposure immediately. Never run if your clothing catches on fire. The “Stop, Drop and Roll” method has become a cliché, but it could save your life.
- For smaller burns, remove the hot material from your skin. Then, run the burn under room temperature water.
- Do not apply ice to the burn! Although this may provide temporary relief, it can cause a freezing injury on top of a burn injury.
- Cover the burn with clean, dry dressing (like a towel, piece of clothing or bed sheet).
Then, visit the Arizona Burn Center so an expert can utilize proven, medical burn remedies you can’t perform yourself.
How Are Burns Categorized?
For doctors to know how to treat your burn, they must first understand how severe it is. There are two general categories for determining this. The first is based on the depth of the burn.
- First-degree burn: affects only the outer surface of the skin.
- Second-degree burn: affects some of the skin.
- Third-degree burn: affects all the skin.
Then, doctors will look at the extent of your burn, or how much surface area is involved. For example, if you have a scald burn on your hand, they will refer to it as a 1% second-degree burn. Your burn category may also change over time, as the initial injury usually worsens within the first 48 hours.
How Has Burn Care Changed Over the Years?
Just a few decades ago, doctors weren’t sure how to treat a burn. Surgery wasn’t an option — they waited for patients to heal on their own, which led to high mortality rates. Starting in the late 1970s, doctors started operating on burns by removing the injury and replacing the area with a skin graft. Since then, we have also seen many advances in ICU care, ventilation management and antibiotic support. There are now many forms of skin grafting, such as skin substitutes and skin sprays.
Years ago, the big question for patients with large burns was, “Will they survive?” Today, the question is not whether they will survive but how well they will survive. Our goal is to minimize scarring, maximize function and get the patient back to work or school as quickly as possible. We’ve revolutionized burn care within the last half-century, but our research and advancements will only continue to improve from here.
If you suffer from a burn injury, remember that our Arizona Burn Center is open 24/7. We never say no to a burn patient and are always ready to offer expert burn remedies that lead you to a speedy recovery.