View the patient fact sheet for more information about the types of burns, dressings to use and ways to support burn healing.
Frequently asked questions
A deep burn, which will obviously take longer than 14 days to heal, may require surgery (skin grafting). You should be offered a burns specialist consultation to determine the benefit of having surgery.
A skin graft is a surgical procedure to take skin from one part of the body and transfer it to another part of the body where there is a wound (such as a burn). A skin graft may be full thickness (where all layers of the skin are transferred) or split thickness (where just the top layers of skin are transferred).
The majority of skin grafts for burns are split thickness skin grafts. A machine called a dermatome is used to harvest skin from a suitable area (called the donor site). The donor site is usually the thigh as it is easy to harvest skin from there. The skin graft is held in place by either staples, sutures, glue or sometimes by dressings alone. The donor site is dressed in different ways and usually takes 7–14 days to heal.
In general, burns that heal within 14 days are unlikely to scar. Burns that take longer than 14 days to heal may form a scar (known as a hypertrophic scar). The longer a burn takes to heal, the more likely there will be some form of scarring. People with certain skin types may be more likely to scar. Hypertrophic scars may be itchy, raised, discoloured, painful and the overlying skin may break down from time to time. Hypertrophic scars that are over joints may restrict the joint from full movement.
Each individual will scar differently. You should have the opportunity to discuss the risks of scarring with a member of the burns team. If scarring develops, there are many ways in which the scar can be treated, including massage and stretching, compression garment therapy, silicone therapy, steroid injections, laser therapy and as a last resort, surgery.
When it is time to change the dressings at home, it is usually ok to have a shower once the dressings have been removed. You may like to use a mild, soap free body wash and let warm water run over the burn. After showering, you can then pat the burn dry and replace the dressing. You can have a shower every day or every second day, according to your preference. Showering every day will require more dressing material and you may run out of dressings sooner.
Your doctor will advise you on your suitability to drive, depending on the severity and location of your burn and the pain medications you are taking. It is important to always follow the instructions regarding driving and operating machinery when you are taking strong painkillers.
When a burn has healed there is a thin layer of newly formed skin cells called keratinocytes on the surface of the burn. The burn will go from appearing moist to being shiny and dry. As the burn heals, it may become itchy. When the burn has healed, often the pain associated with the burn will improve dramatically.
Dryness in the skin can aggravate itching, so make sure once the burn has healed to use plenty of moisturiser to hydrate the skin. Your doctor or therapist may recommend a particular type of moisturiser to you, but in general a plain, inexpensive, scent-free moisturiser such as sorbolene works best. Avoid rubbing or scratching the area as best as you can. Sometimes using cold packs or pressing down firmly on the area may ease the itch. You can also take antihistamines, which are available over the counter at pharmacies. There are different antihistamines available and you may discuss the options with your pharmacist.
Dressing care patient information
Physiotherapy exercise handounts
Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ)
Information (data) on your admission is routinely sent to the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ). Your privacy is protected as the information does not contain any information which may be used to identify you ie. no name, no address, no hospital record number and no photographs. The information is combined to that of many other patients, such that your specific injury cannot be identified in any reports.
You can freely choose not to have your information recorded, however you are required to request this to occur.
Your decision will not in any way influence the high quality care you will receive.
If you prefer not to have your information recorded, either:
- fill out the online request to have your information removed
- call the data manager on (07) 3646-3262, or
- tell a member of the burn care team
The Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ) is a clinical quality registry collecting epidemiological, quality of care, and outcome data for adult and paediatric burn patients across Australian and New Zealand burn units. The project is a collaboration between the Australian and New Zealand Burn Association (ANZBA) and Monash University, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (DEPM).
The overall purpose of the registry is to monitor the causes and incidence of burn injury, to identify objective and verifiable data on treatment, outcomes and quality of care with the principal objective to encourage higher standards of both burn injury prevention and patient care.
Information submitted consists of:
your date of birth, gender, ethnicity and postcode
- date, time and location of your injury and admission
- type of burn injury
- first aid received
- site (location on your body) and size of your burn
- treatment you received, including in the intensive care unit
- complications, if applicable
- weight assessment
- codes for specific diagnoses and procedures
Dr James Mayne Building
Burns Outpatient Clinic
Location: Level 1 Dr James Mayne Building
Phone: (07) 3646 6738
Professor Stuart Pegg Adult Burns Unit (Ward 4C)
Location: Level 4 Dr James Mayne Building
Phone: (07) 3646 3273
Need help outside hours?
For non-urgent medical issues call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or visit your GP.
In an emergency call 000.