How common are burn injuries?

Globally, burns are the sixth most common injury type, and fire alone accounts for more than 300,000 deaths each year. In high-income countries such as Australia and New Zealand, burn injury incidence is lower due to regulations addressing smoke detectors, hot water temperature controls and flame-retardant sleepwear for children.1 In 2016–17, approximately 2,300 adults and almost 1,000 children were admitted to burn units across Australia and New Zealand.2

Causes of burn injuries in Australia and New Zealand are age-related. For younger children, almost 60% of burn admissions are due to scald burns. These often occur at home from hot drinks or cooking vessels. Contact burns are also common in children when skin comes directly in contact with a hot surface such as a vehicle exhaust, heater or hot ash. These burns tend to be small but deep, often requiring surgery to heal. Flame burns are more common in older children and adolescents, as the incidence becomes similar to that for adult burns. Flame burns are the most common burn injury in adults, accounting for 43% of admissions to burn units in 2016–17.

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Assess a burn wound for appropriate treatment or refer

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