Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about our program with frequently asked questions about the Western States Burn Center at North Colorado Medical Center.
Question: Why are the rooms so warm?
Answer: One of the main functions of the skin is to control body temperature. If the skin is injured it cannot maintain the needed internal temperature so we must do it by increasing the temperature of the room. Please do not alter the room temperature.
Question: Who do I ask if I have questions?
Answer: The nurses and doctors are happy to answer any questions you have. Keeping our patients and their families informed of all aspects of care will contribute to the healing environment, reduce stress and develop a trusting relationship. It may help you to write questions down.
Question: How long will I have to stay in the hospital?
Answer: Your hospital stay will depend on the size and depth of your burn. Usually, you should plan on one day for each percent burned, unless complications arise.
Question: Will I need to have surgery?
Answer: Your need for surgery is determined by the depth of your burn. The deepest burn is called full thickness or third degree. This type of burn will heal very slowly without a skin graft. A second degree burn might heal without grafting depending on depth. Your doctor will explain all surgical procedures beforehand and answer any questions you have.
Question: What is wound care?
Answer: Wound care involves removing the burn dressings, cleaning the burned tissue and reapplying the dressings. This is done twice a day to prevent infection and promote healing. Alteration in the wound care schedule would occur after skin grafting.
Question: Why do I have so much swelling?
Answer: Immediately following a burn the body attempts to compensate for the injury by sending fluid to the site. This causes a great deal of swelling. Swollen arms and legs may be elevated to encourage this fluid back to the rest of the body. There may also be swelling in the face, extremities and scrotal area.
Question: How are burns classified?
Answer: The classification of a burn depends on the depth of the burn.
- First degree: Mild sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn. There is redness and localized pain. These burns involve the top layer of skin called the epidermis. This usually goes away in 24 hours. Superficial partial thickness (second degree) burn: Appears red, moist, blistered and is painful. These burns involve the epidermis and the layer below it called the dermis. They are painful because some nerve endings are exposed. They usually heal within 2-3 weeks.
- Deep partial thickness burns: Appear as areas of pale pink or white sometimes with a mottled look from small blood vessels rupturing in that area. They can be painful depending on whether the nerve endings are intact and exposed. If the burn is deeper, the nerve endings may be destroyed making it a less painful burn. The length of time to heal varies and these burns many times require grafting.
- Full thickness burns (third degree): Burns involving all layers of skin down to the fat. They may be white, red, brown or black in color. They are dry, leathery and relatively painless due to the damage to the sensory nerves in the skin. These burns usually require grafting.