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Burn Terminology

Contracture –
The shortening of muscle tissue which results from excessive scarring and causes limited mobility.

Debridement –
The mechanical, chemical or surgical removal of dead tissue that does not come off easily during the healing period.

Dermis –
The layer of the skin located underneath the dermis which is comprised of connective tissue, nerve endings and blood vessels.

Dressings –
A method of treatment in which bandage or gauze is wrapped around the burn to reduce the risk of infection.

Early Excision – A surgical procedure used to remove unnecessary tissue to prepare for a skin graft.

Epidermis – The outermost, protective layer of the skin.

Eschar –
A piece of dead tissue.

Escharotomy – A surgical procedure in which an incision in made into the burned skinned to allow proper circulation.

First degree burn –
Affects the epidermis and may cause redness, peeling or minor swelling.

Fourth degree burn –
The most severe type of burn which causes damage to all layers of the skin, nerves, tissue, muscles and, in some cases, the bone. Also referred to as a ‘major burn.’

Hypertrophic scar –
Overgrown, raised scar tissue that stays within the injured area and becomes smaller overtime.

Hypothermia –
A condition in which body temperature drops. For burn survivors, this occurs when a portion of the skin, which acts as the human body’s natural blanket, is destroyed.

Hypovolemia –
Decreased blood volume. Due to large wounds, major burn survivors are susceptible to hypovolemia.

Immobilization –
Prohibiting the mobility of a joint or limb to assist the healing process.

Keloids –
Overgrown, raised scar tissue that spreads beyond the injured area and is usually flesh or pink colored. Can limit mobility.

Stands for total body surface area and usually refers to the portion of the body affected by the burn injury.

Third degree burn –
Destroys the epidermis and dermis and causes damage to the nervous system. Skin typically looks charred and leathery. Also referred to as a ‘major burn.’

Second degree burn –
Affects the epidermis along with parts of the dermis and can cause serious pain, swelling, blistering, damage to bodily functions and damage to mobility.

Sepsis –
A life threatening blood infection caused by bacteria which can lead to shock. Symptoms include chills, decreased urination, hyperventilation, warm skin, lightheadedness and shaking.

Skin graft –
A process in which healthy skin is transferred to the injured area to help with the healing process.

Subcutaneous tissue –
Located underneath the dermis and is comprised of loose connective tissue.

Tetanus –
A life threatening disease caused by bacteria which enters the body through wounds. Burn survivors are susceptible to tetanus because the bacterium is resistant to high temperatures.