Mr. Mashburn, a worker at a paper-recycling plant, fell through a loose grate and into a sump pit in September 2008 as he was preparing to inspect a steam valve. Super hot condensate, at a temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit, enveloped his legs instantly, searing skin up to his thighs.
A co-worker was able to pull Mr. Mashburn out of the pit within 30 seconds, sparing him a worse fate, but he was left with first-, second- and third-degree burns on both legs.
"Once I got out and pulled my pants and my boots off, I remember just watching the skin peel away like you were taking a ladies stocking off. That's how fast the skin went away," he recalled.
Mr. Mashburn, 56, was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where he received skin grafts on his right leg and both ankles before returning to his Rockwall County home for rehabilitation. His wounds are healing, but the resulting itching requires the application of moisturizing lotion several times a day to relieve the constant sensory irritation.
"Every day on a scale of one to 10, it's about a 3 or a 4. If the moisturizing lotion wears off, if the skin dries and starts to flake and gets a sunburned look, it gets to 8 or 9 on the itch scale. It's pretty intense," Mr. Mashburn said. "If you've ever had a really bad case of poison ivy, that's what it's like."
He has also had to forgo blue jeans because his calves rub against the pants legs.
Chronic itching, medically termed as pruritus, is an almost universal problem for people recovering from major burns, and it can become debilitating by interfering with daily activities. UT Southwestern Medical Center rehabilitation specialists, after reviewing studies and treatments, have compiled recommended guidelines that appear in the Journal of Burn Care and Research.
"When you're not itchy, itching seems minor. But when you're itchy, you constantly think about it," said Dr. Vince
|Contact: Russell Rian|
UT Southwestern Medical Center