Pediatric Burn Infection

Felicia N. Williams, Jong O. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Severe burns lead to a profound hypermetabolic, hypercatabolic, hyper-inflammatory state. Pediatric burn patients are at significantly increased risk for infection and sepsis secondary to loss of the skin barrier and subsequent immunosuppression. Infection is the most common cause of morbidity and death in pediatric burn patients, and the mortality rate from sepsis remains high. Methods: Review of pertinent English-language literature pertaining to infection among pediatric burn patients. Results: Established risk factors for infection in pediatric burn patients are the depth of injury, presence of inhalation injury, indwelling devices, and total body surface area burned. Total body surface area remains one of the most important risk factors for the development of infectious complications, and mortality risks increase significantly if the burn size is >40%. The predominant colonization of burn wound starts with gram-positive organisms, which are replaced later by gram-negative organisms. Most cases of sepsis in burn patients originate from infected burn wounds. Treatment options include topical and systemic antimicrobial drugs, but surgical intervention often is the most definitive treatment. Excision of burn eschar to remove the source of potential infection is a key component of the treatment as well as prevention of infection. Conclusion: Key principles in improving outcomes for septic pediatric burn patients is early recognition, resuscitation, and adherence to management strategies such as prompt antimicrobial drug administration and source control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-57
Number of pages4
JournalSurgical Infections
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • antimicrobial drugs
  • burn
  • pediatric infection
  • sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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