The Latin American Burns Federation (FELAQ) celebrates today the Latin American Day for the Prevention of Burns in commemoration of the creation of the Benaim Foundation, and the birthday of its creator, Dr. Fortunato Benaim, who recently turned 102 years old.
“At this time of year it is essential to intensify burn prevention campaigns: unfortunately, to the common causes, bad exposure to sunlight is added and in a short time, when the holidays arrive, the misuse of fireworks“, he explained Dr. Alberto Bolgiani, president of the Benaim Foundation, an institution specialized in the treatment of burns.
Transgression as a risk factor
Based on research and surveys carried out by the Benaim Foundation regarding adherence to self-care behaviors, specialists wonder why, if people are aware of what they should not do, prevention measures are not taken into account at the moment to carry out all the daily actions that can be risky.
“Warning about the dangers of running a red traffic light or of the misuse of a solvent or of exposing oneself to the sun at noon is useless if we cannot operate on that tendency to transgression that intensifies in the social context, and that ends up threatening our integrity. Because the knowledge of the danger is not necessary but sufficient. And this is the basis of our line of work to carry out primary prevention programs with potential for success”, says Bolgiani.
While official statistics are lacking, experts estimate that in Argentina approximately 200,000 people per year are victims of burns, and half of them (100,000) are children. “The most frequent burns in children are produced by hot surfaces and liquids(iron, cover oven, baking sheets hot, electricity, kettles, and pots with boiling liquids, as well as hot tea as tea, coffee, mate, etc.)” In addition, as we approach the warmer months, should be added the burns produced by exposure to unprotected sunlight, and by the end of the year, those caused by the misuse of pyrotechnics”, highlighted the expert.
Why do burns occur?
“The skin consists of two layers: the epidermis, superficial, made up of several superimposed layers, and that while it is healthy (without injuries) protects the body from infections and bacteria. Below it is the dermis, which helps to keep the epidermis in good condition, allowing it to regenerate its cells when minor attacks injure or destroy them”, explains Bolgiani.
This dermo-epidermal balance functions as a true biological laboratory in which chemical exchanges are produced incessantly and throughout life, regulated by the nervous system and the glands of internal secretion. Under normal conditions, all these metabolic variations are kept in equilibrium within limits set by this complex regulatory system, permanently attentive to correcting any deviation that tends to disturb it.
“When a burn destroys the skin’s architecture, the balance is upset. If the lesion is superficial (type A), it destroys only the epidermal layers, which regenerate within 7 to 12 days due to the reproductive capacity of the cells not damaged by the injury, and the patient heals without leaving sequelae, that is, scars or visible alterations. If, on the other hand, the burn is deep, produced by aggressive agents of great intensity such as direct fire, flammable or others of the same nature, or by prolonged contact with other agents, the destruction of the skin is total and therefore not there is a possibility of spontaneous recovery”, explains Bolgiani. In turn, the severity of the burns will be determined by the relationship between their extension and depth: first-degree the most superficial, second-degree, and third-degree the deepest.
The dermatologist Lucas Ponti (MN 130388) is a specialist in the aesthetic and restorative clinics and works in the Adolescent Dermatology office at the JP Garrahan Pediatric Hospital. In dialogue with Infobae, he clarified what are the first steps that must be taken to treat a burn: “The first thing to do is to put the burned area under cold water for several minutes. This limits its expansion and relieves pain. It is necessary to assess the depth to treat it properly. Hot water or steam cause very painful burns, but they are often not as deep as those caused by boiling oil or water”.
Skin in 3D, the challenge of being able to count on the patient’s own skin in the operating room
For 40 years, the Fortunato Benaim Burning Foundation has been a pioneer in the development of burn patient care in Latin America with the installation in the 1980s of the first skin bank; from the epithelial cell culture laboratory in the ’90s; and the creation of a center of excellence for the care of burn patients at the German Hospital in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the 21st century.
Paradoxically, the skin is the only organ that cannot be transplanted. “Technological development has contributed to improving the quality of care for our patients. And at this moment we have a project underway that we started five years ago in collaboration with the University of San Martín and a private company in Córdoba: research and development for the creation of a bioprinter that can print dermis and epidermis in the operating room from the patient’s own cells and with the necessary extension, depending on the size of the lesion. We hope to be able to start its use in the middle of this decade”, concludes Bolgiani.
What to do in the face of a burn?
· Apply only cold water or ice (wrapping it in gauze)
Protect the area with gauze to avoid infection
Do not apply other elements (apple, margarine, butter, oil, tomato, ointments, toothpaste, etc.)
If blisters form, never pop them
· Immediately consult a doctor who specializes in burns.
Tips to avoid burns
Avoid spillage of hot substances
Do not cook, drink or carry hot drinks or food while holding a child to upa
Keep hot foods and liquids away from the edges of tables and countertops
Do not use tablecloths that small children can pull
Check the temperature of the bathwater before putting children in the bathtub
Block access to stoves or cookers while they are in use
Keep items that generate heat (clothes or hair irons, for example), matches, and lighters out of the reach of children
Test the temperature of food before giving it to young children
Cover electrical outlets and keep cables out of the reach of children.
· Choose fire-resistant fabrics. And for mattresses and pajamas, verify that they meet flammability standards
Pay attention when handling fuels, flammable liquids, and alcohol
Never stoke the fire with flammable liquids
Do not expose yourself to the sun’s rays between 12:00 and 15:00 and always use sunscreen
· When using fireworks: do it in open places, away from homes; children must always be accompanied by elders; never use items that are homemade or purchased from businesses that are not authorized; not point in the direction of another person; never use more than one product at a time