Recommended First Aid for Acid Burn Patients
It is very necessary to get a first aid as soon as possible. Otherwise in worst cases the acid penetrates to the bone which could be fatal for patient’s life.
1. The most important First Aid is to immediately wash affected body part of patient with plenty of fresh or saline water.
2. Don’t rinse the burn area with dirty water as it can cause severe infection.
3. Keep flushing the affected burn area with plenty of cool water,(not very cold) until the patient’s burning sensation starts fading. It may take 30-45 minutes.
4. Remove all the jewelry or clothing which had contact with acid.
5. Don’t apply any kind of cream, ointment on the affected area as it may slow the treatment procedure by doctors.
6. If possible, use sterilized gauze to loosely wrap the affected area. The gauze protects the skin from air, debris, dirt and contamination.
7. Rush the patient to a burn specialty hospital having isolated wards for burn patients
Points to Remember during treatment of wounds
While the treatments of wound are going on in the hospital, kin of acid burn patients should understand the importance of following listed points. Usually the doctors/nurse treating the patients should take care but it is good for the attendants of burn patient to be doubly sure. And in case there is any negligence, bring the issue to correct authority notice.
The most common cause of death for acid burn patients is Infection. The burn skin is very sensitive and can be very easily infected if not taken care and cleaned properly. Hence throughout the course of treatment, a strict hygiene has to be maintained until the wounds are completely healed. The room and washroom used by patients should be thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant 2-3 times a day. Food containers used for carrying patients food should be properly sterilized before use. Outside food is strict no.
2. Proper Dressing
Utmost care has to be maintained while doing dressing for movable body parts. It has to be ensured that burnt skin do not come in contact with each other, otherwise they would stick with each other leading to handicap.
Due to acid burn nerves under skin get permanently damaged leading to inability in the movement of body parts. If ignored it can lead to physical handicap. Hence regular sessions of physiotherapy is important to ensure that nerves are trained properly and body part remain movable
4. Skin Grafting
The surgery perform to cover the open flesh with a skin, taken from the other part of the body like thigh or lower back where there is no burn.
5. Protein Rich Food
Burned body needs lot of protein and carbohydrates for damaged tissues to heel. Consult the hospital nutritionist to arrange for proper deit for the patient throughout the course of treatment.
6. Hemoglobin Check
Since lot of blood is lost due to burn injury, it results in very low hemoglobin level. Doctors cannot perform any surgery if hemoglobin is low. Hence patients should take diet which aids in building hemoglobin level and in some case blood transfusion should also be considered.
7. Corrective Surgery
After the burn would heal a series of corrective surgery are required for correcting the contracted skin, reconstructing the burnt body parts like eyebrow, nosetrils, ear holes etc depending on feasibility. A good plastic surgeon should be consulted for planning out the sequence of operation.
Long Term Care
1) One needs to take care of the skin after the wounds heal post surgery so that the scarred tissues settle well.
Following three simple techniques have shown good results.
a) Regular Massage – with Contratubex and coconut oil, two times each daily.
b) Gell sheet- to be applied on affected area at least for 12 hrs a days.
c) Pressure Garment- to wear for at least 10-12 hrs a day.
Patients should be provided good counseling support as the long course of treatment, pain, social stigma has a very detrimental effect on their self esteem. In most cases they loose hope to live and be back again in the society. There are several instances when the acid burn patients have bounced back in life. Citing such examples help the patients to regain faith and look ahead for their log battle with life.
3) Social Reintegration Support
In many cases acid burn patients are disowned by their kins due to social stigma attached to the patients. The expensive cost of treatment is another reason. Without proper social re integration support patients tend to alienate them selves from the society. They should be persuaded to step outside and participate in all the day to day activities that they can. Following are few important ways to enable social reintegration of the patients
Patients may need to travel to various cities(usually metros) and hospitals due to various surgery needs. In many cases they cannot afford shelter for themselves and theirs family members at these locations. They should be provided shelter during the treatment course and also after that.
b) Occupational Training
Making the patients financially independents is a very effective in re installing confidence in them. With proper occupational training they can work and earn money for them and their families. This increases their self esteem and motivates them to look ahead in life.
c) Education support
Several acid burn patients come from very weaker section of the society and they may not have proper education. Providing educational support opens new options for them and makes their chance of rehabilitation better.
After Effect of Acid Burn
When a woman is attacked by acid on face. Its not only the face she has to cover, she has to cover all her ambitions, dreams, thoughts, anger, pain everything for rest of her life.. Because nobody can understand and feel the pain. She cannot explain that too. People only see a burned and ugly face and find a chance to blame her for that in the name of Karma.
The acid burn is usually considered as the third or fourth degree burn as it burns not only the skin but penetrates to the fourth layer of skin and damages the tissue. Usually the burn wound takes several months(about 3-4 months) to heal properly. Once the wound heels, the scar remain forever. Once the scar covers the wound, it will remain the same size, and in many cases, it will resolve over time (usually 3-4 yrs). It irritates in sun or fire or dry weather. One has to apply oil or ointment 4-5 times daily to keep the skin moisturized.
The hypertrophic scar becomes swollen, puffy, and reddened, causing it to stand out from the surrounding skin. It leaves the part of body immobile if it is on joints. If the scar is on neck, one cannot move the neck left or right.
As the skin pores are closed due to burn, the skin doesn’t sweat and that makes it very dry. (remember how you feel when your skin gets super dry in winter? They feel it everyday...)
Usually acid patients lose their eye sight either partial or full due to penetration of acid into the eye. And there would always be yellowish discharge coming out from the eye.
Usually one has to clean the eye 10-15 times a day. Can you do that?
It’s so common for acid attack patients to lose social life. They can’t step outside because there is no acceptance for such kind of face in the society. Apart from the scars on their face, they struggle with society too!!! Conservative people of the society make them scarier.
Our society needs mature and progressive people who look and think beyond the mere physical appearance. Instead of hiding their children from acid patients, they should make them understand that it happens to some unfortunate people and they should not be scared and run away from them. Instead they should help them, talk to them, smile at them.