HBOT and Burn Treatment: How It Works and Why It's Effective
In 1965, HBOT therapy treated a group of coal miners for carbon monoxide therapy after an accident. At the same time, physicians noted that the miner’s second-degree burns were healing quicker than those not treated with HBOT.
HBOT Burn Treatment Floods the Tissue with Oxygen
In burns, the skin around a second- or third-degree burn becomes more hypoxic than normal. This means the tissue becomes oxygen deprived. Because the cells in the body need oxygen to heal, this lack of oxygen slows the healing process. However, this is where HBOT treatments become a great tool in the healing process. The use of HBOT, or hyperbaric oxygen, greatly reduces the burn victims’ chances of severe infection or death.
HBOT Works with Traditional Burn Treatment
In addition to traditional burn treatments, HBOT floods the body and the damaged tissue with high levels of oxygen. This works to minimize swelling, helps to preserve damaged tissue, and reduce the risk of tissue death. Additionally, it helps promote white blood cells that help fight off infection and promotes wound closures. The additional oxygen improves blood flow in constricted blood vessels that help maintain the structural integrity of the skin’s connective tissue. The addition of HBOT treatments to burn victims significantly reduces healing time. It also reduces the chance of scarring and severe complications by as much as 80 percent.
Basic Burn Statistics
Every year in the United States, more than two million burn injuries will require some sort of medical attention. Of those, around 75,000 will require hospitalization and a third of those will require hospital stays of two months or more. On average, 14,000 hospitalized burn victims will die, most often from advanced infections. Those that do recover can suffer from long-term emotional and physical scars.
What is a Burn and What Do Different Types Mean?
Your skin is comprised of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue. The type of burn and its severity depend on how many of those three layers receive damage. Simple burns, such as a minor sunburn, only affect the epidermis or outer layer. Serious burns damage the outer layer and penetrate deep into the other layers, causing damage to the skin and inner tissue. This causes swelling, scarring and often leads to infection.
First-degree burns involve only the epidermis or top layer of skin. The average sunburn is an example. Typical signs include redness, painful to the touch and the skin may show mild swelling. Treatment for first-degree burns includes the application of cool and wet compresses to reduce the swelling and pain. The burn can be covered with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or cloth to help avoid possible infection. Typically, first-degree burns heal well on their own and medical attention is only necessary if the victim is elderly or an infant or the burns cover a large portion of the body.
Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and the dermis levels of the skin. Symptoms include a deep reddening of the skin, pain, blisters, a glossy appearance caused by leaking fluid and the possible loss of some skin. Second-degree burns require medical treatment
Third-degree burns are the most serious burns and affect all three layers of the skin and are severe enough to permanently destroy the tissue. Signs of a their-degree burn include loss of skin layers, the skin is dry and leathery and may appear charred or have patches that appear white, brown or black. In many cases, the victim may not feel pain as the tissue is dead. Pain can occur in areas where the burn has only affected the first two layers. Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention and are very prone to infection. It is these burns that typically result in hospitalization and the need for long-term treatment.
Fourth-degree burns extend past the skin levels and cause damage to the muscles, tendons and even bone. There is typically no sensation in the area as the nerve endings have also been destroyed. The risk of infection with these burns is high. Long-term hospital care is required and many of these cases can be fatal. In most cases, multiple surgeries are necessary to remove the burned tissue and skin grafts are necessary to cover the damaged areas.
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