When to refer and FAQs

After preparing the burn wound bed, it can then be accurately assessed in terms of depth and surface area.


When to refer to our burns service

Some minor burn injuries will require further referral to a surgeon, wound care specialist and burn outpatient clinic. Such cases would include but not be limited to:

  • Burn injuries in which depth is unclear after 3 – 5 days, referral to a surgeon or burn specialist maybe warranted.
  • Burn injuries which are slow to heal (eg poor progression at 5-7 days) should be referred to an appropriate wound specialist, surgeon or burn service.
  • Burn injuries in patients with co-morbidities that can complicate wound healing should be managed by a clinician with wound care expertise
  • Where resources are unavailable eg. dressing supplies exceed patients care requirements

Frequently asked questions

Should I let the wound dry out?

No, is the simple answer. There has always been a lot of confusion about this. Various studies have demonstrated over the past decades that a moist would healing environment accelerates the healing process, and therefore reduces the risk of scarring. The average adult human body is 50-65% water, so human cells will naturally repair and migrate better in a moist environment.

What if I’m not sure how deep the burn is?

For the general public, visit your GP or Wound Care Clinic to have the burn assessed by a professional. For expert advice for GPs, refer to a general or plastic surgeon, or the appropriate burn service. Early appropriate management will ensure the best outcomes following injury. Don’t delay.

Should I use/prescribe antibiotics prophylactically after burn injury?

No. Scientific evidence is inconclusive regarding the effects of prophylactic antibiotic use in people with burn injuries. In principle, antibiotics should only be given when a known infection is present and according to sensitivities. Systemic antibiotics are not routinely prescribed for patients with uncomplicated minor burn wounds. The use of topical antimicrobial dressings should be considered as an alternative to systemic antibiotics unless there is invasive burn wound infection.