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Physical Therapy Can Aid in Healing Burns and Scars

June 20, 2018

Burns or scarring from injuries can be a small nuisance or life-changing. Did you know using physical therapy in Parker could help you when it comes to recovering from an injury and help with the healing of scar tissue?  Take some time to learn about burns and scars to understand why they happen and key ways to be on a path to recovery.

Types of Burns

Each person has three layers of skin: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Your epidermis is the outer layer of skin that you can see. The dermis is the middle layer and houses hair follicles, sweat glands, and connective tissue. Your hypodermis is the innermost layer of skin, solely made of connective tissue, as well as fat.

When a person comes into contact with a hot flame or object, the skin cells actually die—hence causing a burn. They can be as small as a patch of red, rough skin, or a person can experience blistering or extensive damage to the skin. It depends on the classification of the burn: first-, second- or third-degree.
  • First-degree: First-degree burns are the lowest injury when it comes to types of burns. This is because the outer layer, the epidermis, is the only layer that is impacted. It will cause redness, as well as inflammation. The area will become dry and hard, that may peel once the burn is starting to recover.
  • Second-degree: Second-degree burns penetrate the skin more than first-degree into the dermis layer of the skin. This usually causes blistering and extreme redness. In some cases, even once the burn has healed, the color of the skin in the area of the burn may be forever changed. A skin graft can help restore its appearance.
  • Third-degree: Third-degree burns are the most extreme types of burns that can happen and penetrates all three layers of the skin. They may even go in as far as the muscles and bones. The pigment of the skin may be permanently changed to a lighter or darker color, that has a texture similar to leather. In many cases, little pain is felt with third-degree burns as the burn destroys the nerve cells, eliminating the pain sensation. Skin grafting can help to reverse some of the damage.

Treating a Burn

Each burn can be treated differently. For first-degree burns, upon experiencing a burn, immediately soak the burn in cold water or use a cold compress for a minimum of five to 15 minutes. You can purchase a cream meant to treat burns to help with the pain and fix affected skin cells more quickly. They can heal in a couple weeks. Many first-degree burns can be treated at home, but always contact a doctor if you are concerned.
Upon seeing the blistering, you will know you have experienced a second-degree burn. Be sure to run cool water over the burn for a minimum of 15 minutes, or longer. You can use creams to help with pain and recovery—but contact your doctor to ensure you are on your path to recovery.

Third-degree burns can happen due to steam, chemicals, fire, or electrical outlets. You will definitely want to see a doctor as soon as possible to treat. In the interim, make sure you do not have any clothing or jewelry touching the burn. Unlike first- and second-degree burns, don’t put water or cream on it. Go straight to a medical professional. Physical therapy can help you regain motion again.

How Scars Happen

Upon experiencing an injury to the skin, such as a cut or scrape, scarring will occur. Scarring is actually the body’s response to an injury and is a sign of the healing process it is undergoing. They will arise when the second layer of the skin, the dermis, is penetrated. The body’s white blood cells attack bacteria which will change the color and texture of the skin, which will create a scar. Each injury is different, causing a variety of scars. Types of scars include:
  • Contracture: This type of scarring occurs after one experiences a burn. The skin becomes tight and depending on what degree burn it is, the muscles and nerves can negatively be impacted as well.
  • Keloid: Keloid scars are raised and sometimes lumpy scars that can take time to form. They occur after burns, piercing of the skin, scratches, or acne. They may grow much larger than the actual affected injury area.
  • Hypertrophic: Hypertrophic scars are also raised, but different than keloids. They can occur due to the same reasons as keloids, too. They are usually smaller than keloids and only stay in their affected area.
  • Acne: An unfortunate side effect of acne is scarring. When acne is so severe, and/or a person picks at the area, scarring can happen. Ultimately, they happen because the area is trying to recover.

Scar Treatments

Because each scar is different, they may require different routes for healing. For minor scarring, there are creams and other ointments either from your doctor or from the store. These will provide relief and speed up healing. When the scar is itchy or painful, your doctor can prescribe special medication to help reduce the sensation, so you can better avoid the area, as touching the scar is negative during the healing process. In certain cases, such as keloid or scarring from burns, it may require skin grafting or surgery to repair the scar. Steroid injections are also a way you can reduce swelling, too.

When it comes to recovering from injuries that have caused burning and/or scarring, Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness can help. Our team will use a variety of techniques, such as the Graston technique and cupping to help you regain motion and reduce pain. By using this combination treatment, it will help speed up your body’s natural reaction to heal. No matter where you are, there is a Peak office near you. Review our list of locations and contact Peak PT and Wellness today to be on your way to a speedy recovery!