Deep or widespread burns can lead to many complications, including:

  • Infection. Burns can leave skin vulnerable to bacterial infection and increase your risk of sepsis, a life-threatening infection that travels through your bloodstream and affects your whole body. Sepsis is a rapidly progressing, life-threatening condition that can cause shock and organ failure.
  • Low blood volume (hypovolemia). Burns can damage blood vessels and cause fluid loss. This may result in low blood volume (hypovolemia). Severe blood and fluid loss prevents the heart from pumping enough blood to the body.
  • Dangerously low body temperature (hypothermia). The skin helps control the body's temperature, so when a large portion of the skin is injured, you lose body heat. This increases your risk of hypothermia — when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature.
  • Breathing (respiratory) problems. Breathing hot air or smoke can burn airways and cause breathing difficulties. Smoke inhalation damages the lungs and can cause respiratory failure.
  • Scarring. Burns can cause scars and keloids — ridged areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue.
  • Bone and joint problems. Deep burns can limit movement of the bones and joints. Scar tissue can form and cause contractures, when skin, muscles or tendons shorten and tighten, permanently pulling joints out of position.
Aug. 21, 2012

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