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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tips for Preventing Contact Burns

As temperatures hit triple digits in Arizona, surfaces like paved roads, playground flooring and even pool decks can burn like fire. Last summer, contact burns from naturally heated surfaces accounted for more than 10 percent of patient visits at The Grossman Burn Center at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix.


“In extreme heat, outdoor surfaces can reach temperatures in excess of 160 degrees resulting in second degree burns within a matter of seconds,” said Robert Bonillas, M.D., associate medical director and burn surgeon.


A second-degree burn occurs when the first layer of skin has been burned through to the second layer of skin. In some cases, blisters will form and the area may become red, painful and swollen.


The Grossman Burn Center at St. Luke’s offers four tips for preventing common contact burns:


Wear foot protection. Running barefoot across the street or even from the house to a backyard swimming pool can be enough exposure to suffer a burn. Make sure to wear proper foot protection any time you come in contact with asphalt, concrete and other outdoor surfaces.


Keep kids on cool surfaces. Parents are advised to take extra caution when allowing kids to play outdoors, as their skin is thinner and will burn faster compared to an adult. If a child were to fall off a bike, he or she could potentially suffer severe burns to their hands and knees. During the hot summer days, put the skateboards and bikes away and limit play to the pool and grassy areas. Apply sunscreen with an SPF-factor of at least 30 liberally and frequently.


Cover leather car surfaces. Parked cars can reach an internal temperature of roughly 150 degrees, causing leather car seats to be dangerous for those wearing clothing that do not protect the back of the legs. Also beware of seatbelt buckles and other metal items that can be dangerous to the touch.


Put sunshades in front and back car windows. A sunshade with a thick reflective material has the potential to block out a significant amount of heat, thereby reducing your risk of burn.


In case of a burn. When a burn occurs, first cool it off with cool water—never use ice. Put a loose, clean dressing over the wound and seek burn care immediately. Don’t use home remedies like butter and oil that can potentially cause an infection to an open wound.


If you are unsure of the severity of a burn, err on the side of caution by seeking medical attention. If a burn is not showing signs of healing within a week, consult a physician as soon as possible.


Robert Bonillas, M.D., is the associate medical director at The Grossman Burn Center at St. Luke’s Medical Center. For more burn safety tips, call the Grossman Burn Center at St. Luke’s at 602-251-8687.


This information is provided by St. Luke’s Medical Center as general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.




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