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Parts of your body without sensation are vulnerable to burns. It’s important to take some common-sense precautions to avoid them. Follow these simple, but effective tips.
After a spinal cord injury, it’s important to be very aware of the areas in your body without sensation. Be mindful of how your body is positioned. Be especially carefully to keep the parts of your body without feeling away from extreme heat, fire, and other hazards that could cause burns.
Typical causes of burns
Many people with spinal cord injuries have burned themselves severely because they did not feel the hot temperature against their skin. Burns can be caused by grills, heating pads, spilled hot beverages, dropped cigarettes, and hot water in a tub or shower. Even the floor board of a car or the cement around a pool can become very hot, causing severe burns to your feet or legs without you noticing.
One researcher of spinal cord burn victims said that, “objects commonly used in daily life may produce the most frightful burns.” In one study, the most common causes were bathing and showering, food and beverages, and therapy devices, such as heating pads or electrical stimulation.
Tips for avoiding common burns
Like pressure ulcers, the best strategy for avoiding burns hinges on three things: 1) understanding the risks, 2) always being aware of what’s contacting your body, and 3) taking practical preventive steps.
Now that you have a better understanding of some of the most common risks, here are a few tips that can help increase your awareness of the typical sources of burns, and how to prevent them.
|Cause of Burn||Prevention Tips and Considerations|
|Showering and bathing||
|Fire or extreme heat||
|Hot foods and beverages||
|Sunburn and hot outside surfaces||
A good general rule of thumb is to check your skin often and be aware of hot or extremely cold surfaces. Extremes in temperature can produce deep skin damage that can take months to heal and put you at risk for severe infection.
What to do if you have a minor burn
Give yourself first aid right away. Apply cool water to the area (not cold water or ice). Once the area is cooled and dry, apply an antibiotic ointment or lotion. Bandage with a sterile gauze.
For more serious burns, visit your nearest urgent care center or hospital emergency room immediately.
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