How you treat an electrical burn depends on the location and severity of the burn wound as well as the collateral damage caused by the electrical current passing through the body. After the initial first aid, it is necessary to assess the need for follow-up treatment.
What is the treatment for a minor electrical burn?
We recommend you seek medical treatment for all electrical burns regardless of how minor you think it is. This is because of the potential of internal complications caused by electric shock. In some cases, a “minor” burn will have deadly complications.
However, if you do not have any of the following symptoms, your electrical burn wound is likely minor:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain or spasms
If this is the case, you can follow the treatment protocol for a typical burn:
- Keep the wound clean.
- Choose whether you wish to use a burn ointment and/or dressing.
- Do not apply an ointment or dressing until the initial heat has dissipated from the wound.
- Follow up with your doctor if there are any changes, if you have any concerns, or if the wound does not heal within a few days.
Watch over your wound for the next week or two. If anything seems off or if you develop any of the symptoms above, call your doctor.
What is the treatment for a significant electrical burn?
Significant burns from electrical sources, such as stun guns, electrical current inside a building, outdoor electrical wires, or lightning, should always receive immediate professional medical treatment.
The first concern for the emergency medical personnel will be to stabilize the patient. After the initial emergency treatment, the ongoing patient treatment will depend on whether the patient has suffered any collateral damage as a result of the electrical current.
Electrical burn patients are usually both trauma patients and burn patients, the treatment team will carefully monitor fluid levels and conduct wound care and management.
Treatment for Internal Complications
The team will monitor the injured person’s vitals and ensure no further treatment is necessary. Some burn victims might need surgery for an irregular heartbeat or other complication.
A fasciotomy may be necessary to treat compartment syndrome (i.e., increased pressure in the tissues) and prevent the need for amputation. A fasciotomy is the cutting of the fascia (i.e., tissue surrounding a muscle or organ) to release pressure and allow blood flow.
Treatment for the Burn Itself
After the initial emergency care, an electrical burn patient might require transfer to a trauma or burn center. Depending on the specific injuries, the patient may need to see several surgeons, which can include plastic, orthopedic, and general surgery.
Reconstructive surgery may be necessary after the burn has partially or completely healed. Plastic surgeons work to reduce the appearance of burn scars. Orthopedic surgeons try to restore function when contractures interfere with range of motion.
Electrical burns can also result in long-term neurological damage, even if the burn wounds are not on the head. Doctors should advise patients of this possibility, and patients should schedule follow-up consultations with specialists in these areas.
The burn wounds may need skin grafting to heal properly. When tissue has been burned deeply, it can lose the ability to regrow itself. Surgeons can perform skin graft surgery using the patient’s own tissue, using grafts of animal skin, or using synthetic tissue. In all but synthetic tissue, surgeons must harvest healthy tissue before surgically placing it on top of the burn.
Splinting (i.e., immobilizing the burnt part of the body) may be necessary to preserve function and prevent contractures. Splinting can preserve or restore range of motion.
You will likely also require antibiotics to prevent or treat an infection. The treatment team will continually monitor you for any signs of infection.
For electrical burn treatment, you can expect to spend days or even weeks in the hospital, depending on the severity of your burn.
How will I pay for my treatment?
If you suffered an electrical burn due to another party’s negligence, you may have a valid injury claim. Our legal referral specialists can connect you with a lawyer who can help you. Call us today at 844-549-8774.