Burn Injuries of the Foot and Ankle
posted: Jul. 06, 2015.
With summer upon us, we all naturally put ourselves at an increased risk for all types of burns. The most obvious is sunburn. Over two million Americans are hit with skin cancer every year, including celebrities like Anderson Cooper and Hugh Jackman. However, the warm weather also brings an increase in bon fires that can cause more severe burns.
You have likely experienced a burn of some kind, but hopefully you never experience one severe enough to require medical care. If you do, however, know that here at Cast a Foot Podiatry in Hempstead, I am trained in treating burns of the lower extremity.
Burns isolated to the foot and ankle is common with spills. Anyone who boils water while cooking is at risk for such burns. Very severe sunburns, while rarely requiring a skin graft, can require medical attention. On the opposite end of that spectrum is frostbite, which is treated very similarly to burns. Electric burns are also seen by foot and ankle surgeons. However, given the fair amount of orthopedic work done by foot and ankle surgeons, cast burns are our biggest concern on a day to day basis.
Plaster and fiberglass, the two materials which casts are made of, both release heat when moistened. As few as eight layers of plaster dipped in 24 degree Celsius water will damage skin. This is one of the reasons why we use plenty of cast padding and lukewarm water when applying casts.
The podiatrist must also be aware that burns can occur when removing a cast. While the cast saw may sound scary, the blade cannot actually cut you. It can, however, burn you if applied directly to the skin for too long. This is why we remove casts with an up and down motion so the “blade” does not sit on your skin.
This introduction to burns is applicable to our everyday treatment of patients as podiatrists. Next week I will expand on how we can use surgery to treat severe burns.