Burn injuries often cause major health impairments or can sometimes be fatal. While medical attention may focus more on pain control, much notice might be needed on the healing process.
Itch may begin on the early stage of healed injury and may continue on to days, weeks, months, or even years. After burn itch is one of the main hindrances to effective burn rehabilitation. The itch can cause an unfavorable consequence on the newly born skin of the burn.
Burn itches are common on partial-thickness wounds which take longer to heal. The increase secretion of histamine from local wound cells and sensitivity of sensory nerves are the main factors of burn itch. Unfortunately, skin moisturizers, sedatives, and oral antihistamines have been futile in treating burn itches.
Statistics have disclosed that incidents of itching from healed burn average from 50 % for adults to 100% for children.
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Burn Itch: Signs and Symptoms
The itching starts from the re-epithelialization period that is when after the burn heals. Then the itching begins to be more prominent on partially thick burns. On average, a thick burn requires 3 weeks to heal. The itch manifests on the transition of the epidermal-dermal intersection. Itching also comes along deep and grafted burns.
Factors like increase in body temperature and heat activity usually emphasizes the burn itch. The presence of erythema usually corresponds to the degree of itching in the skin. It also builds the relationship of occurrences of itch with increase in blood flow.
Itching can get worse at sleep during the night. This is due to the less movement at night, resulting to more itch. This is derived from the relationship of pain and itch.
Burn Itch Treatment
Basically, moisturizers are the main cure for itching by reducing the incidents of drying skin. It is not the itch per se which is treated by skin moisturizers but it is the cause of the itch.
To control the appearances of scars and other forms of itch, compression garments may be utilized. However, such may not be effective for burn itches which are not prone to hypertrophic scar.
Some medical professionals will also require the application of colloidal oatmeal baths to decrease skin irritation.
Burn Itch Medications
These are the medically suggested pharmacological treatments for burn itch:
1. Oral Antihistamines – Considered as the backbone of therapy, oral antihistamines contain H1 receptor antagonists. These active agents are proven to be successful in treating itches.
2. Pain Medications – Anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal agents are to alleviate the discomfort of the itch. However, these types of medications have the requisite of pain in the burn itch. Without it, the treatment may cause no effect or worse, it may develop unwanted side-effects.
3. Topical Anesthetic Agents – Local anesthetics contain a proportion of 1:1 of prilocaine and lidocaine. Although studies have not fully understood as to effects on the itch, but one thing’s for sure topical anesthetics should be applied to small wounds.
4. Topical Doxepin Cream - Tricyclic antidepressant is what best describes Doxepin. It is considered safe and has only drowsiness as its side-effect. A 5% Doxepin cream has been proven to be of great effect to treat itchy skin for over 15 years now.