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Third Degree Burns

We speak to M.D, a 45 year old male, about his third degree burns........

How did you get the burns?

I was at a party and had had a couple of drinks. We had lit a bonfire during the party, and in the evening it was dying down, so we thought it might be fun to jump over the embers. Basically, I mistimed my jump and landed on the hot coals. I was wearing a tracksuit trouser and my left trouser leg caught fire. It got put out pretty quickly by the other people there, but by then I had been burned.


What did you do ?

My wife, who hadn't been drinking, drove me to the hospital.

Did you use any first aid ?

No, I didn't know any. I now know I should have run my leg under cold water for about 10 minutes.

What happened at hospital?

I saw a Burns surgeon who looked at the burn and told me it was third degree. Parts around the main burn were likely a mixture of first and second degree burns. The skin looked really odd, kind of like pale leather. The surgeon said he'd like to wait a couple of days before any surgery though, to allow the burn to calm down and for the rest of the area to show whether surgery was needed or not.

Then what happened ?

I went back to the surgeon two days later. Luckily they said that the burn looked about the same as before and the skin surrounding the main burn should be okay without skin grafts. The third degree burn though was about 1% surface area, and this would need a skin graft.

So you did need a skin graft?

Yes, but only for the bit that was third degree. As I say, the rest of the burn wasn't as deep so was left to heal on its own. I had a general anesthetic and the surgery apparently took about an hour. The surgeon told me that they cut away the burn, then took a very thin shave of skin off my thigh. This skin was then stitched onto the wound from where the burn was taken from.

Did you have any complications?

No it all went well. The thigh from where they took the graft was sore, but strangely the burn area wasn't too bad at all. I was seen a few days later and the wounds were checked.

It's now 3 months since the surgery, and everything is fine. I went back to work after 3 weeks, and my leg works fine. It doesn't look too great, and it's pretty obvious I've had surgery, but overall I'm happy.


Can you give any advice to anyone with a third degree burn?

I've only had one, so can't call myself an expert! I do wish I'd used cold water after the burn, as apparently this might have reduced the injury.

Learn more about Third degree burns and burn treatment in our Procedure Info pages

Learn more about skin grafts in our Hot Topics section

This page is for information only, and does not replace a Specialist. Your experience may not be the same as above and the surgery, tests or other management may not be as described as above. If you are concerned about any health issues, you should contact your general practitioner or specialist for healthcare advice. Please also read our disclaimer.




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