Entries in Burns (4)


FDA Warns of Serious Skin Burns from Topical Pain Relievers

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Some consumers have contracted serious skin burns after applying certain over-the-counter topical pain relievers to ease mild muscle and joint aches, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.

While such injuries are rare, consumer complaints to the FDA have spanned the spectrum from mild to severe chemical burns from the use of brand-name products such as those identified by the FDA as Bengay, Capzasin, Flexall, Icy Hot and Mentholatum.

These topical pain relievers include creams, lotions, ointments and patches. In many instances, the burns surfaced after only one application, and severe burning or blistering ensued within 24 hours, according to FDA Consumer Health Information. Some people were hospitalized because of serious complications.

It is common for the FDA to issue safety warnings to alert consumers and health professionals, so they can make informed decisions about product usage.

“The FDA plays an important role in ensuring products are safe and effective throughout their life cycle, and we continuously monitor for any adverse events,” spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said.

Relying on a variety of sources, the agency will research a concern as far back as necessary. It depends on the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System, other databases, and medical and scientific literature.

There were 43 cases reported -- from 1969 to 2011 -- to the FDA of burns linked to over-the-counter topical muscle and joint pain relievers containing the active ingredients menthol, methyl salicylate and capsaicin. FDA scientists uncovered these cases during safety surveillance. The agency noted that they represent only a small fraction of total consumer usage of these products.

“I can’t speculate as to whether this will result in changes to the label,” Yao said, while explaining that the FDA regulates over-the-counter products through drug monographs.

These over-the-counter monographs are like “a recipe book, covering acceptable ingredients, doses, formulations and labeling,” she said. Because monographs are continually updated, products conforming to a monograph may be marketed without further FDA clearance.

A majority of more severe burns stemmed from over-the-counter topical pain relievers with a combination of menthol and methyl salicylate. Most of these cases involved pain products containing higher concentrations of these ingredients (greater than three percent menthol or 10 percent methyl salicylate). There were few cases reported using a capsaicin-containing product.

“An FDA warning prompts consumers to ask questions before purchasing or using a product,” said Tanya Uritsky, a clinical pharmacy specialist in pain management and palliative care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, she added, “physicians are made aware of these risks and can then assess the risks and potential benefits of therapy before making a recommendation for patients to use it. Pharmacists are on point to educate and counsel patients in the consumer setting, especially since these products are available over the counter.”

Anyone who has ever rubbed a cream, gel or other product on the skin to relieve a sore muscle or joint probably can relate to experiencing a warm or cool sensation. But in some cases, instead of relief, the result is burning pain or blistering, which requires immediate medical attention.

Predicting who will experience a severe reaction isn’t possible, but there are ways to reduce the chance of injury, Uritsky said. For example, apply these products only onto intact skin and don’t cover the area with a bandage or heating pad. If you feel pain after application, observe your skin closely for signs of blistering or burning.

All medications, whether available over the counter or by prescription, have the potential to inflict injury, said Dr. Lynn R. Webster, president-elect of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and a Salt Lake City-based practitioner who specializes in treating pain and addictions.

“There are no exceptions,” he said. "Fortunately, the harm is not common but does exist. Personal vigilance is always advised.”

FDA’s advice to consumers using over-the-counter topical muscle and joint pain relievers:

Don’t use these products on damaged or irritated skin.
Don’t put bandages on the area where you’ve applied a topical muscle and joint pain reliever.
Don’t use heating pads, hot water bottles or lamps on that part of the skin. Doing so increases the risk of serious burns.
Keep these products away from your eyes and mucous membranes (such as the skin inside your nose, mouth or genitals).
Check for signs of blistering or burning after applying these products. Stop using the product and seek medical attention if you experience this kind of adverse reaction.
Talk to a medical professional before using a product if you have concerns.
Report unexpected side effects to the FDA MedWatch program.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Massive Recall of Tassimo Coffee Brewers After 10-Year-Old Burned, Hospitalized

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada announced a recall of more than one million Tassimo Single-Cup Brewers after more than 100 reports of the brewers spraying hot liquid and burning users.

According to the CPSC, about 835,000 brewers in the U.S. and 900,000 in Canada are being recalled.

The Single-Cup Brewers use plastic T-Discs that are filled with coffee or tea to brew hot drinks. The product has been recalled after “140 reports of incidents with the brewers spraying hot liquid, coffee grounds or tea leaves onto consumers, including 37 reports of second-degree burns.”

In one incident, a 10-year-old girl was hospitalized in Minnesota with second-degree burns on her face and neck.

Halee Miller was making a cup of coffee with her grandmother using a Tassimo Single-Cup Brewer her mother purchased for the family for Christmas. All of a sudden, there was a funny noise and then an explosion. Halee was burned by coffee grinds that exploded on her face and neck.

Halee was rushed to the hospital, stabilized and then moved to the burn unit, where she underwent surgery and received synthetic skin grafting.

The incident happened more than a year ago.  After finding "tons" of blog posts with similar complaints, Halee's mother Susan Miller questioned why a recall had not come sooner.

“After it happened, we found tons of blogs about it online,” Miller said. “I don’t see why nothing was pulled off the shelf before now.”

But she said it’s better late than never.

“To see a child go through something like this over a defective appliance is really a sad situation,” Miller said. “I’m very happy to see they’re recalling it before anyone else gets hurt.”

“Millions of Americans enjoy starting their day by brewing a hot cup of coffee or tea,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement. "Being sprayed and burned by hot coffee grounds or tea leaves is something no one expects when standing near their brewer.  I urge consumers to stop using these recalled T discs and respond to this important recall.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


J.R. Martinez: Burn Survivor's Zest for Dancing, Life

ABC/ADAM TAYLOR(NEW YORK) -- As J.R. Martinez raised his right arm and extended his left to deftly clasp the hand of his partner Karina Smirnoff in an emotional ode to fallen servicemen and women, the All My Children star symbolically reached out to fellow burn survivors, demonstrating with his scarred face and body that it's possible to move beyond the dark days of doubt, despair and depression and reclaim a meaningful life.

Eight and a half years earlier, however, when a landmine exploded along a hot, dusty road in Iraq, Cpl. J.R. Martinez wasn't so sure he'd have that chance.

On April 5, 2003, Martinez, a 19-year-old infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division, jumped into the driver's seat of a Humvee to lead an Army caravan into the city of Karbala.  Suddenly, a landmine detonated beneath his feet. Fuel-fed flames seared his clothes, burned his skin and incinerated the dreams of a lean, slim high school football player from Dalton, Ga., who a year earlier had declared to his mother: "I'm going to be somebody.  I'm going to do something with my life."

As he remained trapped inside the truck, he thought: "This is where my life ends.  Everything I wanted to do no longer exists," Martinez recently recalled in an interview between Season 13 rehearsals of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, where the novice ballroom dancer is considered a contender for the championship.

As he felt pain in his face and numbness where flames had destroyed nerve endings that day in 2003, he saw no future. "I honestly thought it would be better if I hadn't survived the accident," he said.

But military medics and doctors began aggressively treating him in Iraq, and ultimately at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.  They fought to save his life and preserve his mobility.  They placed him on a ventilator because of severe smoke and heat damage to his lungs.  Once he arrived in Texas, they began the excruciating rituals of removing dead, burned skin and surgically grafting healthy skin from unaffected areas of his body.

After seeing his face for the first time, he fell into a deep depression, uncertain what his life could hold.  However, one day, after speaking with his mother, "I made a choice that I was going to get through every single day.  And the answer would come to me, and it did."

He visited another burn patient and realized that was helping him change his outlook.  Martinez began making regular visits to many patients.

"That," he says, "is when J.R. Martinez was born."

As he endured what ultimately would be 33 reconstructive and plastic surgery procedures, therapists put him through hours of painful stretching exercises so he might once again lift his arms, straighten his elbows, open the fingers of his contracted hands, and turn his head from side to side.  He also had to re-learn to walk.

"It was tough, it was painful, but because I did those things, because they pushed me to do those things, is why I am where I am today," Martinez said.

In all, Martinez spent 2 ½ years in and out of the hospital, and by 2006, was again playing basketball and lifting weights.  As he regained physical strength, he committed himself to staying fit, which has served him well on the dance floor.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


10 Tips to Avoid Fires, Injuries While Barbecuing

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every year, 7,000 Americans are injured while using backyard barbecue grills.  It's usually a case of good products used incorrectly.

ABC News teamed up with Underwriters Laboratories, the non-profit company that puts the UL mark on products it has tested for safety, to highlight the most common mistakes and key safety tips.  Here are the top 10:


1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house.  Farther is even better.  This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages, and porches.

2. Clean your grill regularly.  If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire.

3. Check for gas leaks.  You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections.  Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.)  If the soap forms large bubbles, that's a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.

4. Keep decorations away from your grill.  Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas provide fuel for a fire.  To make matters worse, today's decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.

5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy.  That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it.

6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill.


7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed.  It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face.

8. Leave a grill unattended.  Fires double in size every minute.

9. Overload your grill with food.  This applies especially to fatty meats.  If too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.

10. Use a grill indoors.  In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas.  That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio