Not So Fireproof: Burns

Sun burn on your feetEnergy can do a lot of damage. Fire burns up wood, cloth, and bio material. Hot temperatures and even some chemicals can melt metal and stone. As you might expect, all of that can cause serious damage to your skin, too. Hot water, chemicals, and even too much time in the sun can cause burns that range from irritating to crippling. Your feet are not immune to this. In fact, burns on your feet can be particularly debilitating, since they limit your mobility.

Types of Burns

Burns are injuries that damage skin as a result of exposure to heat or another caustic substance. In most cases, we imagine burns from touching a hot surface, like a working stove top, sunbaked pavement, or boiling water. These do tend to be common sources of burns, particularly burns to feet. However, chemical burns, radiation burns, and electrical burns can potentially harm your feet as well.

The damage from being burned is measured by degrees. A first degree injury is painful, but relatively mild. Your skin is reddened and suffers surface-level damage. As the inflammation decreases, the affected area may dry out and peel. A second degree burn is more serious, with the damage reaching deeper through layers of skin.  The affected area will be red and very sore, as well as develop blisters.

A third degree burn is the worst and most serious of these injuries. The damage affects all layers of skin and possibly tissues underneath. This can kill nerves so you do not feel as much pain as you might expect. Your feet can end up looking waxy-white, charred and blackened, or leathery dark brown. The damage from this type of burn can be permanent and, in serious cases, can be fatal—though this is rarely the case for foot damage.

How Feet Get Burnt

You can burn your feet many different ways. Stepping on a heated surface without shoes or sufficient protection can damage your soles. Walking through leaked chemicals could do this as well. Most commonly, however, people burn the tops of their feet by dropping something on themselves. Whether the tops or the bottoms of your lower limbs are affected, though, a burn can seriously inhibit your ability to walk or even use your feet.

This is because stepping or walking on burnt soles is extremely painful and can aggravate the damage. Damage on top of your foot is almost as bad, though. The skin there is thin, meaning it doesn’t take much to affect other tissues. Your tendons and ligaments may not be able to function freely as a result.

Burn Treatments and Handling the Pain

The good news is that this kind of damage can be treated—and possibly reversed—if it’s taken care of immediately. Our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. will examine your lower limbs and determine how extensive the injury really is. Then we can help you begin treatment to restore your skin.

Minor foot burns just need basic care. Cool the affected area right away in lukewarm or cool water. Apply aloe or other cooling gels to alleviate the inflammation to reduce your pain and help your skin heal. You may need to protect the area with a bandage to prevent infections. Serious or major burns will need emergency and possibly invasive medical treatment. This can include surgery, but only a full examination of the damage will tell exactly what you’ll need.

Burns can be quite serious and leave scars or cause other permanent problems. The sooner a burn on your foot is addressed and treated, the more likely you’ll be able to heal it effectively. Allowing it to go untreated increases your risk for infections and secondary problems. If you have a burn of any kind of your feet, let our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. know so we can help you take care of your skin. You can reach us through our website, or by calling one of our locations to make an appointment with Dr. Oberholtzer-Classen or any member of our team directly at (303) 805-5156. We have offices in Parker, Denver, and Castle Pines, CO.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC