Burn Injury Complications, Explained
Burn injuries are painful physically and emotionally. The physical scars they leave can pale in comparison to the emotional suffering. Burn injury victims have many options for treatment, but healing is a long process full of ups and downs.
You can suffer burns from electricity, radiation, heat, or chemicals. While getting treatment, you can suffer complications resulting in lifelong pain. Today, we want to talk a bit more in-depth about the complications that can arise from burn injuries. If you find yourself dealing with one of these medical conditions, or if you have questions about your legal options, you should speak to our Tulsa burn injury lawyers.
Permanent scarring after a serious burn injury
Many burn injury survivors become frustrated when they realize they are left with scarring long after the wounds heal. Scarring is unpredictable; some people will develop significant, even painful, scars while others may not. The severity of the burn, the portion of your body that the burn covers, and the length of your healing process can impact your likelihood of scarring, but there is no surefire answer for who will and will not have a permanent scar.
Scars can form when the dermal or lower layer of skin suffers damage. Healing your scars is a process that requires patience and teamwork. Treatment will vary by individual, often requiring support from family, friends or third-party professionals to maintain your scar treatment regimen. One treatment option is a custom-fit pressure garment which reduces itch and scar formation. These garments require usage for 23 out of 24 hours a day. Another treatment option is silicone gel sheets which you can place over the scar to decrease dryness and itch.
Hypertrophic burn scars vs. keloid scars
According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are two types of raised burn scars: hypertrophic and keloid.
Hypertrophic scars are a common complication; they are raised scars in the original burn area. Collagen is supposed to help heal the damaged skin, but in hypertrophic scars, which creates discoloration, and the skin heal in a disorganized manner. You will see scars develop within a few months, and they can peak after six months.
While common, these scars are painful and have some unique properties. They will stay within the original burn area and have a deep pink or red color. They can be warm to the touch, itchy and hypersensitive, and are prominent near joints. These scars are dangerous because they can decrease mobility when on or near a joint. The scar can also crack or break down in the skin, and they are sensitive to chemicals and the sun. Severe scars require surgical treatment, especially when they prevent you from performing tasks.
Keloid scars are a little different. Like hypertrophic scars, they too are the result of abnormal healing, and they are also raised. But keloids can spread beyond the initial point of the injury. They can turn almost purple in color and can develop months or even years after the initial burn. Unlike hypertrophic scars, keloids will never heal on their own, and they have a tendency to come back. Keloids also have a higher risk of turning cancerous.
Nerve damage from burn injuries
Your nerves send messages to your body, and when they suffer damage, it impedes your body’s functionality. You can lose your ability to feel heat, cold, pain, or touch at the injury site. Our Tulsa burn injury attorneys often see nerve damage in patients with higher-degree burns. During a second-degree burn, the top layer of skin and the tissue underneath are damaged. Third-degree burn patients suffer additional damage to the fat layer which increases the likelihood of nerve damage. Fourth-degree burns always result in nerve damage because the burn is so severe it makes it down to the bone.
Signs that you have nerve damage include tingling, sensitivity to touch, numbness, shooting pain, and other irregular sensations near the injury site. These symptoms are prominent during healing and can subside once your injury heals. Unfortunately, you will lose feeling permanently in many complex burns with no other treatment options.
One particular risk for burn injury victims is system failure as a result of peripheral nerve damage. If the autonomic nerves are permanently damaged, victims could lose the ability to breathe or eat on their own. Your vagal nerves, for example, run from the brain through most of your body. Burn injuries affecting the neck and chest could potentially damage the vagal nerves, which in turn can affect your heart and your digestive system.
Psychological trauma is a common result of burn injuries
People who suffer physical trauma often have to contend with emotional or psychological trauma as well. Given the nature of burn injuries, many victims will end up looking at physical reminders of that trauma on a daily basis. For example, people with permanent scarring can become self-conscious and avoid social interactions. This isolation can lead to depression and a lower quality of life. Some survivors will change jobs or quit working because of the scarring and emotional toll it causes.
One psychological condition that is prevalent among burn injury survivors is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, which includes symptoms like:
- Sleep problems
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities
- Negative thoughts
- Avoidance of places that remind them of the accident
In many cases, the isolation of PTSD can lead to people being less willing to participate in their own recovery, which in turn makes them feel more isolated – and so the cycle continues. Other folks may feel physical pain as a result of their psychological trauma, even if their physical wounds have healed.
Seeking damages for burn injuries in Tulsa injury claims
If you sustained a burn injury because of someone else’s negligence, you can seek compensation, or damages, for all of your losses. This includes all of your medical care, including long-term treatment and rehabilitation needs. Victims of severe burn injuries often require surgeries, medications, and different types of therapies over the years, resulting in a substantial financial burden.
Biby Law Firm has the resources and experience to hold negligent parties responsible for your burn injury and subsequent complications. Our firm will look for every entity that led to your injury, whether a driver, vehicle owner, construction company, hotel, restaurant, and others. No one is too powerful for us to go against. We will seek all relevant damages for your injury to ensure you have a financial foundation for what is to come.
If you are living with complications from a burn injury, our attorneys want to help. Call Biby Law Firm or complete our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.