Initial assistance to hand burns: literature review

Jefferson Braga Silva, Márcio Pereira Lima Ferdinando, João Guilherme Meinem Garbin, Victoria d'Azevedo Silveira


Aims: To address, through a literature review, the management of hand burns, with emphasis on the initial care.

Methods: Between February and July 2015, 30 articles selected in the databases Medline/PubMed, LILACS, SciELO and Google Scholar were reviewed. Both the English and Portuguese languages were included in the search. Selected articles were published in the last 10 years and matched the following descriptors: hand burn; hand injury; acute treatment; primary treatment; and their counterparts in Portuguese.

Results: Classification of burns is displayed, including depth, extent and aggravating factors. The initial management that avoid complications such as claw hand, compartment syndrome and infection is addressed. Early procedures include occlusive dressings, escharotomy, fasciotomy, and carpal tunnel opening, followed by dressings with topical antimicrobial agents, debridement and grafting. Controversial aspects are discussed on the most appropriate time for surgical intervention, if it is necessary.

Conclusions: The correct early approach to hand burns can prevent irreversible consequences. The appropriate management on hand burns includes since the initial clinical evaluation of the burned area by a general practitioner, to the realization of early procedures in order to prevent limb function loss and unnecessary future reconstructions. The high incidence of this type of burn also stresses the importance of a proper conduct.


hands; wounds and injuries; burns; primary treatment.


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