Electrical burns can cause extensive damage in the underlying tissues and organs. Even though an individual can sustain a small burn on the outside, the extent of interior damage can be serious. It is important to provide timely first aid care on electrical burns to prevent further damage as well as promote the healing process.
What are low voltage burns?
Most cases of low voltage burns typically occur in the mouth or hands of young children below 5 years old. When treating an electrical burn on the hand, the site of injury must be cleaned and apply an antibiotic ointment. By using a splint, it will help immobilize the hand and prevent any disturbance to the burn dressing.
As for electrical burns to the mouth, it can be caused by biting an exposed wire or an extension cord socket. As a result, the electric current readily flows through the saliva which can generate very high temperatures. If the electric current flows through the saliva on the face, the burn can range from a second degree burn or third degree that causes damage over a large area on the lips. If the electric current flows into the mouth, the high electrical resistance of the bone can cause the teeth and other skeletal tissues to heat up and destroy the surrounding tissues.
The main treatment for electrical burns to the mouth involves rinsing the burn and then applying a petroleum-based antibiotic. Since most who sustain these types of burns are young children, both arms will be put on splints to prevent touching the site of injury.
What are high voltage burns?
A high voltage burn can be caused by a lightning strike or utility line problems. This can produce a torrent of life-threatening conditions since the bones are turned into heating coils.
The burns from high voltage shocks often cause black charring of the skin due to the vaporized metal being electroplated on the surface of the skin. This coating can be removed gently with the help of saline solution.
Once the doctor can closely examine the burn, a decision is made whether the affected tissue can still recover. If the tissue has a chance for recovery, it is carefully cleansed and covered with an antibiotic ointment.
For full thickness burns, an MRI will be requested to help determine the extent of damage to the surrounding vascular tissues. As for localized damage, the doctors will usually recommend a skin graft. If the vascular damage extends to a large area of the limbs, the doctor might recommend amputation of the affected limb.
Preventing electrical burns
The best way to avoid getting an electric shock is to observe safety precautions. Wiring must be out of reach while electrical sockets must be covered with safety caps. The wiring must be regularly checked for any open wires or faulty connections.