Ambulatory management of burns

Am Fam Physician. 2000 Nov 1;62(9):2015-26, 2029-30, 2032.


Burns often happen unexpectedly and have the potential to cause death, lifelong disfigurement and dysfunction. A critical part of burn management is assessing the depth and extent of injury. Burns are now commonly classified as superficial, superficial partial thickness, deep partial thickness and full thickness. A systematic approach to burn care focuses on the six "Cs": clothing, cooling, cleaning, chemoprophylaxis, covering and comforting (i.e., pain relief). The American Burn Association has established criteria for determining which patients can be managed as outpatients and which require hospital admission or referral to a burn center. Follow-up care is important to assess patients for infection, healing and ability to provide proper wound care. Complications of burns include slow healing, scar formation and contracture. Early surgical referral can often help prevent or lessen scarring and contractures. Family physicians should be alert for psychologic problems related to long-term disability or disfigurement from burn injuries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aftercare / methods
  • Algorithms
  • Ambulatory Care / organization & administration*
  • Bandages
  • Burns / classification
  • Burns / complications
  • Burns / diagnosis*
  • Burns / therapy*
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Contracture / etiology
  • Decision Trees
  • Family Practice / methods
  • Humans
  • Patient Admission
  • Patient Selection
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Skin Care / methods
  • Wound Healing