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Commonly Used Terms

Burn Types

Superficial Burn
Sometimes called a first-degree (1°) burn, superficial burns affect only the epidermis and the skin remains intact. First-degree burns are red or pink, dry and somewhat painful. Sunburns are an example of this type of burn. Superficial burns generally heal in three to seven days.

Partial-Thickness Burn
Sometimes called a second-degree (2°) burn, partial burns affect the outer portion of the dermis, as well as the epidermis. These burns are red with blisters that may break and ooze a large amount of pale yellow fluid. Partial-thickness burns are very painful and swollen. Second-degree burns generally heal in 10 to 14 days.

Deep Partial-Thickness Burn
Some partial-thickness burns extend into the deep dermal layer. These burns appear pink to white or tan. They are dry and less painful due to damage of the nerve endings. Deep partial-thickness burns may heal in 17 to 21 days.

Full-Thickness Burn
Burns affecting the entire dermis, epidermis and extending into the fat cells are called full-thickness or third-degree (3°) burns. Full-thickness burns are dry and appear white to tan or charred. Due to nerve damage, there is little or no sensation. Third-degree burns require skin grafting in order to heal.

Commonly Used Terms

Ace Wraps (Ace Bandage)
Elastic gauze temporarily compresses various parts of the body to decrease swelling and skin breakdown.

Allograft (Homograft)
A temporary skin graft taken from another person.

Arm Trough
Device to help properly position a patient's burned arms, and decrease swelling and maintain function.

Arterial Line (Art Line)
A catheter placed in an artery to continuously measure a patient's blood pressure.

Autograft
A skin graft taken from an unburned area of the patient's body and placed onto a burned area after removal of the burned skin.

Burn Rounds
An interdisciplinary burn team of doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains, which meets weekly.

Cardiac Monitor
Video monitor that shows the patient's continuous heart rate and rhythm.

CEA (Cultured Epithelial Autograft)
A skin biopsy taken from a patient and sent to a laboratory. The surface epithelium is cultured (cloned) for use as grafts for that same patient.

Central Line
An IV catheter placed in a large vein, usually the neck, chest or groin.

Charge Nurse
The nurse who manages the unit, and can answer questions concerning your family member.

Circumferential Burn
A burn covering the patient's arm, leg, neck, fingers or chest.

Compression Garment
A tight-fitting, custom-made garment that puts constant pressure on healed wounds to minimize scarring.

Compressor Grip (C-grip)
A tight, stretchy, tubular material used for temporary compression until a custom garment is available.

Contracture
Inability to completely straighten a body part, e.g., arms, legs, fingers or neck, due to severe scarring of tissue between two joints during the healing process.

Culture
A laboratory test of the blood, urine or sputum to determine the cause of infection in burn wounds.

Debridement
Process of removing dead burn tissue (eschar). This may be done surgically, during hydrotherapy or at the bedside.

Donor Site
The area on the patient's body from which unburned skin is removed to graft onto the burned and surgically debrided area.

Edema
Excess fluid that accumulates in tissue and causes swelling. This is very common in burns.

Endotracheal Tube (ET Tube)
A tube inserted through the mouth to supply air into the lungs to assist breathing. The ET tube is connected to a ventilator.

Eschar (Pronounced "es-kar")
Burned skin that is dead and must be removed to allow healing.

Escharotomy
An incision made through the full thickness of circumferential burn tissue to restore and or maintain circulation of an arm or leg. Sometimes an escharotomy is done on the chest so the patient can expand his or her lungs.

Fasciotomy
Deeper than an escharotomy, this surgical procedure is performed on deep circumferential burns (usually electrical burns) to preserve circulation in the extremities.

Feeding Tube
A small, flexible plastic tube is threaded through the patient's nose to the stomach or small intestine to provide and/or increase nutritional intake.

Foley Catheter
A tube inserted into the bladder to measure urine output.

Graft
Unburned skin placed on a debrided burn wound. Grafts are categorized as allograft, autograft, homograft or xenograft.

Heplock (Saline Lock)
A small, rubber cap placed on an IV to maintain access to the vein.

Home Training
We train the patient's primary caregiver to clean wounds and apply dressings. This person is usually a family member or friend of the patient designated to provide care after discharge.
Although the training may be omitted if the patient will have a home health nurse, it's important to be familiar with the patient's burn wounds.

Homograft (Allograft)
A temporary skin graft taken from another person.

Hydrotherapy (Tanking)
Patients are bathed on a shower cart where mechanical debridement, wound cleansing and exercises are done.

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