We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Burn Injuries FREE

Sharon Parmet, MS, Writer; Cassio Lynm, MA, Illustrator; Richard M. Glass, MD, Editor
JAMA. 2003;290(6):844. doi:10.1001/jama.290.6.844.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Burn injuries are most often caused by coming into contact with fire but can also be caused by chemicals (such as acids) that can penetrate the skin, hot liquids (scalding), heated metals (such as a stove top), or electricity. Burn injuries are most common in children younger than 5 years and in people aged 65 years and older. The August 13, 2003, issue of JAMA includes an article about treating burn injuries.


Burns are categorized according to the depth of the burn on the skin, which is made up of multiple layers. Normal skin functions as a barrier that keeps toxins and irritants out of the body and moisture in.

  • First-degree burns—affect only the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). Mild sunburn, with reddening of the skin but no blistering, is a good example of a first-degree burn. These burns can usually be treated with cool water and lotions to help soothe the skin.

  • Second-degree burns—penetrate the second layer of the skin known as the dermis. These burns redden the skin and produce blisters and can be very painful. Second-degree burns may require medical attention.

  • Third-degree burns—cause extensive damage to the skin including the subcutaneous layer located beneath the dermis. The skin may look charred or white.

  • Fourth-degree burns—involve underlying fat, muscle, tendons, or bones as well as full thickness of the skin. Medical attention is required immediately for proper treatment of third- and fourth-degree burns.

Treatment of severe burns may involve skin grafting, where healthy skin is removed from one part of the body and placed over the burned part. Physical therapy to prevent stiffening of joints due to excessive scar tissue formation may also be needed.


The ideal treatment for burn injuries is prevention. Here are some basic things you can do to prevent burn injuries at home:

  • Make sure your home has at least one smoke detector on every floor of the house, and check the batteries at least twice a year.

  • Keep fire extinguishers handy and know how to use them.

  • Don't use space heaters near combustible materials like sheets, newspapers, or drapes, and avoid using extension cords.

  • Store hazardous materials in safe containers away from children.

  • Roll up long loose sleeves while cooking.

  • Turn all pot handles in on the stove.

  • Make sure bath, sink, and shower water is not too hot before using it.

  • Don't smoke, especially in bed.

  • Have an escape plan in case there is a fire in your house, and go over it with the entire family.



To find this and other JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA 's Web site at http://www.jama.com. A Patient Page on children's burn injuries and prevention was published in the January 5, 2000, issue.

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA . The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. Any other print or online reproduction is subject to AMA approval. To purchase bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.

Sources: US Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Burn Association, Home Safety Council, National Fire Protection Association




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles

The Rational Clinical Examination: Evidence-Based Clinical Diagnosis
Search Results for Studies of Accuracy