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The different burn types

Burns vary significantly in terms of severity, with a wide variety of clinical needs depending on a spectrum of factors, such as anatomical location, degree of temperature, duration, surface area and depth  . Burns are generally classified by depth, according to the following categories  :

How to choose a dressing for burns
hcp's treating patient with mepilex

Different burn dressings and dressing protocols address different burn needs:

  • For superficial partial-thickness burns, burn dressings should be left on the wound for long periods of time (at least one week), until healing  , 
  • Partial-thickness burns have moderate to high exudate levels where foams and alginates can be an option  
  • Antimicrobial dressings for burns, such as silver dressings, may be used prophylactically as a barrier to microorganisms  
  • A systematic review concluded that standard use of SSD in the conservative treatment of partial-thickness burns can no longer be supported  
Selection of burn dressings: guidelines

The choice of a dressing for burns should take into account several factors. The following are guidelines in burn dressing selection:

European Burn Association (EBA) guidelines 

The choice of burn dressings depends on: cause, size, depth, location, degree of exudation, contamination level and costs.

International Society for Burns Injuries (ISBI) guidelines  

Characteristics of an ideal dressing would be the following:

  • Provides an optimum environment for moist wound healing
  • Allows gaseous exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapor
  • Provides thermal insulation
  • Impermeable to microorganisms
  • Free from particulate contaminants
  • Non-adherent
  • Safe to use
  • Acceptable to the patient
  • High absorption properties
  • Cost-effective
  • Allows monitoring of the wound
  • Provides mechanical protection
  • Nonflammable
  • Sterile
  • Available in all settings
  • Requires infrequent changes
  • Ready to use to reduce dressing time


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