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Journey Through Fire: Burns on the Feet

It’s a common sight in a hot, sunny area like Las Vegas: reddened, burnt skin. You see it on faces, shoulders, backs, and legs. Most sunburns are fairly mild, but other burns could be far worse. Fire, boiling water, hot metal, and some chemicals can easily burn skin. Usually feet are somewhat protected from this kind of damage by your footwear, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible. Burns on the feet can cause serious skin injuries that need treatment.

Sunburn on foot

The Impact of Burnt Toes

A burn is a particular injury to your skin. It not only damages the outer layer and impairs your skin’s ability to protect you, it can also damage the tissues underneath your skin. How much damage it causes largely depends on how serious the burn is. Because of the way your skin sits on your feet, the potential for serious damage that impairs your ability to walk is fairly high. The skin on the top of your foot is quite thin, so a burn could easily impact the tendons under it and make moving your toes or ankle difficult. The soles of your feet are thick with plenty of fatty cushioning, but they are also under a lot of pressure. A burn here would make walking painful, or even impossible.

Many different substances can cause a burn. Fire is, of course, the most obvious. Heat from the sun and boiling water are two other common causes of burns on the tops of feet. Shocks from electricity or exposure to caustic chemicals can also injure your skin. Burns aren’t exclusive to heat, either. Extreme cold from ice can actually “burn” the surface of your skin as well.

Measuring Severity

Treating burns on the feet largely depends on how serious the injury is. Burns of any kind are classified in degrees:

  • First Degree – The mildest form of the problem, this is a superficial injury that doesn’t extend past the outer layers of skin. It causes redness and tenderness to the touch, with possible swelling. Often your skin peels and flakes as it heals.
  • Second Degree – A moderate burn, this affects deeper layers of skin. Generally you develop blisters as well as redness and swelling. Your foot will feel sore and tender.
  • Third Degree – A severe burn, this not only damages all layers of your skin, but can affect the tissues underneath it and permanently scar. Your skin will appear waxy, charred, and leathery.

Healing the Skin

Sunburn on legs and feetTreating burns on the feet should happen immediately or shortly after incurring the injury to minimize the damage and start healing. The degree of the burn plays a role in how you treat the injury, of course. If you have any concerns about how severe the damage is, Dr. Noah Levine will examine your foot carefully to determine the extent of the condition. Then any serious issues or secondary infections can be addressed.

For a first or even second degree burns, start with first aid. Immerse your lower limb in lukewarm to cool water right away. Avoid iced water since the extreme cold could add to your skin damage. After a few minutes, very gently pat your foot dry. Apply loosely-wrapped gauze to the burn, then cover it with a bandage. You’ll need to replace this daily. Our team might recommend applying an over-the-counter, topical medication to help prevent infection.

More serious second degree and all third degree burns are emergencies. Your foot will need to be elevated to reduce swelling and discourage a rush of blood to the injury, since that could increase your pain. Lukewarm compresses will be applied to your skin to cool it down. You’ll need treatment to prevent or combat infections in the skin. Extensive damage might need procedures to repair the tissue damage as well. As you recover, you’ll probably need physical therapy to restore foot functions.

Treating burns on the feet is a vital part of taking care of damaged skin. Don’t put off addressing even mild burns. Contact our team at Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas for an appointment right away. You can use our online request form, or call (702) 839-2010 to reach us.