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Burn Center Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers your questions about burns, therapy, and the healing process.

What is a burn?
A burn is an injury to the skin from heat, cold, electricity, chemicals, or radiation. A burn can affect our skin, lungs, and whole body. The deeper or bigger the burn, the more serious it can be. All burns — even small ones — can have a big impact on how someone may feel, look or move.

What causes burns?
Burns occur at home, work, or play during our everyday activities and happen in seconds. These injuries result from:

  • Fire
  • Electricity
  • Hot liquids (scalds)
  • Radiation
  • Hot objects (contacts)
  • Extreme cold (frostbite)
  • Chemicals

How are burns treated?
Some burns may be minor and can be cared for at home, while others require treatment in the hospital. For many patients who have had a burn injury, the physical rehabilitation, scar management and emotional recovery continue long after the skin has healed.

At the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center, we understand this. That’s why we offer the skills, expertise, resources, and experience to help our patients and families through all phases of treatment and recovery.

What are the different types of burns? What do they mean?

  • First degree burns are a superficial injury that although painful, will likely heal on its own.
  • Second degree burns are deeper and affect the skin’s outer, protective layer, the epidermis. Also called partial thickness burns, they are very painful and require meticulous wound care to heal.
  • Third degree burns are injuries to all the layers of the skin. These burns will require a graft as they cannot heal on their own.

What is a skin graft?
A skin graft is a piece of healthy skin that is transplanted to heal a deep burn wound.

What is a donor site?
A donor site is the superficial wound that is created when a piece of skin is taken for transplant to cover a wound. The donor site will heal in 1-2 weeks.

Who should have a Burn Center evaluation?
Anyone with:

  • Partial thickness burns that extend over 10% of the body
  • Burns involving the face, hands, feet, genitalia, perineum or major joints
  • Third degree burns
  • Electrical burns including lightning injury
  • Chemical Burns
  • Inhalation injury
  • Burn injury in patients with existing medical disorders such as diabetes, heart failure, etc.
  • Any patients with both burns and a traumatic injury
  • Burned children
  • Patients who requeir special social, emotional needs or long term rehabilitation

How long are patients typically in the Burn Center?
Hospital stays are variable, but the national average is one hospital day per percent of the body burned. The burn team works closely with our patients and their support system to provide a safe discharge as soon as possible.