Because burns can affect the way victims’ bodies function and look, the injury can greatly damage a victim’s sense of self. Many burn victims have to deal with body image distress, a major, difficult-to-overcome psychological issue. In fact, over one-third of burn survivors report significant distress about body function and body image after a burn injury, according to the University of Washington Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (UW MSKTC).
How might a poor body image affect burn victims’ lives?
There is no way to tell how a change in appearance will affect a burn victim. Some patients are much more affected by their change in appearance than others, and the size of the wounds and scars are not a very good indicator of how much distress someone will experience. A small burn scar may traumatize one burn victim, while another might be relatively unphased by large scars.
Burn patients with large burns, full-thickness burns, or burns on the face are generally more susceptible to appearance-related psychological issues. Poor body image is often associated with:
- Feeling ugly and unattractive
- Worry about how a new partner may react to burn scars
- Problems with sexuality and intimate settings
- Feeling rejected by others
- Social discomfort and anxiety
- Problems at work and with relationships
- Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder
What can patients do about body image distress?
Several approaches can help patients cope with their body image issues after a burn injury. “Plastic surgery is a tremendous source of hope and comfort for patients,” explain researchers in a 2013 issue of Delhi Psychiatry Journal. “The notion that the patients have options that can improve their appearance may provide some of the strongest coping assistance possible.”
During the scar formation phase, your burn care team can help you take measures to reduce scarring. After the scars have matured, reconstructive surgery can help immensely. And if you do not want to go through with surgery, YouTube has various tutorials on the best ways to cover burn scars.
Counseling, family therapy, and behavioral approaches to healing can also help with body image, too. You might try finding a support group for burn survivors in your area; it can do a world of good to share what you are experiencing with others.
For acute body image distress, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may be of benefit.
What if I feel like I am not coping well with my burns and body image?
Do not feel like you need to suffer alone. Contact your doctor.
You should also be aware that if another party caused your burn injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and psychological damages such as those related to body image concerns. Consider looking into your legal options.
Contact our lawyer referral specialists who can connect you with a lawyer to help you pursue compensation for the damages related to your injuries. Call 844-549-8774.