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Most burns are accidental. But some burns may not be accidental. Intentional burns, such as immersion in a bathtub of hot water, can occur in abuse situations. Suspect physical abuse of a child or vulnerable adult when:

  • Any injury cannot be explained or does not match the explanation.
  • Repeated injuries occur.
  • Explanations change for how the injury happened.

You may be able to prevent further abuse by reporting it.

  • If you suspect child abuse, call your local child protective agency, police, or a health professional (such as a doctor, nurse, or counselor).
  • If you suspect elder abuse, report it.
  • If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, seek help.
  • If you have trouble controlling your anger with a child in your care, resources are available for help.

An intentional burn can also occur when a person burns himself or herself (self-inflicted burns). The person with a self-inflicted burn will need a mental health evaluation as well as medical treatment.

It is important to have intentional burns evaluated by a health professional.


By: Healthwise Staff Current as of: December 27, 2012
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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