Contact burns are a type of thermal burn that people sustain when they come into contact with a hot object, such as a stovetop or other heated equipment. When you touch a hot object, the skin cells can sustain varying degrees of direct damage, causing instantaneous pain. Other types of thermal burns are flame burns and scald burns. 

What are common ways people sustain contact burns?

Children are susceptible to contact burns because they do not fully understand the dangers of hot objects. But adults often sustain contact burns, too. Common objects that people burn themselves on include:

  • Commercial and residential appliances
  • Lighters
  • Light bulbs
  • Exhaust pipes
  • Soldering equipment
  • Cigarettes

Contact burns occur in workplaces when workers touch hot commercial equipment. They occur in homes when people touch products that overheat. They occur in commercial establishments when patrons touch hot objects that employees carelessly leave lying around.

What are some of the effects of contact burns?

The overall effects of a burn from a hot object depend upon the severity of the burn itself. With burns of this nature, the injuries are usually contained to the just the area of skin that came into contact with the hot object. The burn marks on the skin are often an imprint of the part of the object with which the person came into contact.

When the skin cells are damaged by the heat, it causes an inflammatory response within the body. This causes redness, swelling, and tenderness. If the burn is not severe, symptoms may be limited to pain and inflammation. There will be no blisters and the burn will feel moist.

If the burn is more extensive, the area might turn white to the touch, blisters can form, and nerve endings can be destroyed.

How are contact burns treated?

Like most burns, treatment of contact burns involves keeping the area clean, cooling it, and treating the pain. After washing the skin with water and mild soap, run cool water over the burn site briefly to cool it and reduce pain.

In cases of more severe burns (second-, third-, and fourth-degree burns), the doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics or recommend an antibiotic cream to help prevent infections. Aloe vera can be soothing, as well. Do not pop or pick at blisters, which may increase risk of infections; blisters will drain and subside on their own.

Over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may help with the pain. If those are not helpful and the pain seems unbearable, your doctor can offer additional options.

What types of follow-up care is necessary for contact burns?

Most burns people sustain from coming into contact with hot objects are first-degree burns and do not require follow-up care. Sticking to first aid treatments and your doctor’s orders should suffice.

However, if the burn was extensive, becomes infected, becomes more painful than it was initially, or otherwise will not heal, seek medical attention. Doctors may recommend skin grafts, prescribe antibiotics, or even perform surgery to treat third- or fourth-degree burns.

Is there anything else I should know about my contact burn injury?

If the burn was more than just superficial, i.e., more than just your outermost layer of skin was burned, you might develop scarring. This is an issue to mindful of, particularly if the burn occurred in a prominent area such as the face or hands. You can talk to you doctor about which treatments and home remedies you might be able to use that could reduce the risk of scarring. A doctor may recommend pressure garments or scar removal cream to encourage the formation of healthy skin and prevent scarring.

It is important to identify and understand how the burn occurred. In a lot of cases, carelessness by the burn patient is to blame. But in others, something out of the victim’s control may cause the burn. Is a defective product to blame? Did a shop owner leave a hot object in an area shoppers frequent?

This is good information to give your doctor. And it could point to a party – like a manufacturer or shop owner – that is liable for your injuries. Call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774 to find a lawyer who can help with your legal claim.