Return to graphic version of Itchy Skin After Burn Injury Infocomic.
Infocomic Main Characters
Jessica — An active teenage woman currently in high school. She has recently sustained a burn injury on her arm. She is American Indian descent.
Dr. Anderson — Dr. Anderson is a male, Caucasian medical doctor with glasses and a positive demeanor.
Infocomic Story Description
Jessica recently got a burn injury on her arm. As her burn healed, it started to itch. “My arm is sooo itchy,” she complains. This can happen to a burn that has healed by itself or with grafted skin and donor skin sites. The medical name for itchiness is pruritus (proo-ri´tus).
Itching may make you scratch. This can open fragile skin that has healed. “It’s so raw,” Jessica says as she scratches her arm.
Itching may get worse at night. This can make it hard to fall asleep. It may also be hard to stay asleep.
For example, it is the middle of the night and Jessica is wide awake in bed scratching her arm.
Constant itching may make it hard to think.
For example, Jessica is sitting at her desk at school having trouble focusing because of her itch.
Increased body heat and sweat may also make the itching worse.
For example, Melissa is playing basketball going for the layup when her arm suddenly starts itching. “Seriously? Not again!” she says, frustrated.
Melissa finally decides to visit her healthcare provider, Dr. Anderson, about her itch. “Dr. Anderson, my healed burn won’t stop itching,” Jessica tells him. “I’m sorry to hear that, Jessica,” Dr. Anderson replies. “On a scale from 0 to 10, how bad is it? How does your itch affect your activities?”
Your healthcare team may ask you to describe the severity of your itch and how it affects your life. They may use a scale from 0 to 10 to describe the intensity and impact of your itch. On the scale, 0 is no itch and 10 is the worst itch you can imagine.
Dr. Anderson tells Jessica there are things she can do to help her itch, including:
Keep fingernails short. This may lessen injury to fragile skin.
For example, Jessica is in the bathroom where she has just finished trimming her nails. “The shorter the better!” She exclaims.
Use laundry detergent without any scent to wash your clothes.
For example, Jessica is at the laundromat. She is holding a basket of laundry above her head that’s ready to be washed with scentless detergent.
Take a bath with water that is the right temperature for you. Adding a little baby oil may help. It is also important to moisturize after bath or shower.
For example, Jessica is in the bathtub soaking her arm with the healed burn. “Nothing beats a good bath!” she says.
Massaging your healed skin with lotion may help.
For example, Jessica is in her room massaging her healed burn with lotion.
Take your mind off itching. Try stretching, exercise, playing a game, or taking up a new hobby.
For instance, Jessica is riding her bike during sunset with her cat in the bike’s basket.
If you still have itch, talk to your healthcare team. There are medicated lotions and medicines that might help. Before you take any medicine, talk to your doctor about side effects. Other medicines may also help reduce itching. Talk to your doctor about your options.
For example, Jessica is talking to Dr. Anderson about trying a medicated lotion.
After trying these tips, Jessica’s itch got better. She is now able to sleep, study, and play basketball in peace.
The content of this infocomic has been adapted from the factsheet “Itchy Skin After Burn Injury” (https://msktc.org/burn/factsheets/Itchy-Skin-After-Burn-Injury), which was developed by Laura C. Simko, BS, Emily A Ohrtman, BA, Gretchen Carrougher, R.N., M.N., and Nicole S. Gibran, MD, FACS, in collaboration with the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center. It was illustrated by Grant Corley.
Our health information content is based on research evidence whenever available and represents the consensus of expert opinion of the Burn Injury Model System directors.
This information is not meant to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should consult your health care provider about specific medical concerns or treatment. The contents of this infocomic were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90DP0082). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this infocomic do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC). (2022). Itchy skin after burn injury [Infocomic] (G. Corley, Illus.).
Copyright 2021 Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC). May be reproduced and distributed freely with appropriate attribution. Prior permission must be obtained for inclusion in fee-based materials.