An archive of skin-layer thicknesses and properties and calculations of scald burns with comparisons to experimental observations

N. N. Johnson, J. P. Abraham, Z. I. Helgeson, W. J. Minkowycz, E. M. Sparrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


A numerical model has been constructed to assess the depth of injury incurred when skin is exposed to heated water. The model includes an extended duration that occurs when clothing, saturated with hot water, is kept in contact with the skin after the direct exposure has ended. The model takes data from a broad summary of literature, which examines the ranges of reported tissue thicknesses, tissue thermophysical properties, and blood perfusion. Water temperatures ranging from 60°C to 90°C and total exposure durations up to 110 s were modeled. As expected, longer durations and elevated temperatures lead to a greater extent of tissue injury. For lower values of temperatures (60°C), burns range from mild (0.1 mm) to severe (2.2 mm) depending on the exposure duration. On the other hand, for higher exposure temperatures (90°C), all durations led to burns that extended at least halfway through the dermal layer. As expected, burn depths with intermediate temperatures fell between these ranges. Calculated values of tissue injury were compared with prior injury reports. These reports, taken from literature, reinforce the present calculations. It is seen that numerical models can accurately predict burn injury as assessed by clinical observations; in fact, the calculations of burn injury presented here provide more information for the appropriate treatment of burn injuries compared with visual observation. Finally, literature values of a number of skin-layer thicknesses, thermophysical properties, and burn-injury parameters were collected and presented as an archival repository of information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011003
JournalJournal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 10 2011


  • Bioheat transfer
  • Burn injury
  • Scald
  • Thermal necrosis


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