Hypertrophic Scar Severity at Autograft Sites Is Associated with Increased Pain and Itch after Major Thermal Burn Injury

Academic Article


  • ©American Burn Association 2017. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. Approximately three quarters of major thermal burn injury (MThBI) survivors suffer from hypertrophic scarring (HTS) and over half experience chronic pain or itch. In survivors of MThBI, HTS and chronic pain or itch are considered one of the greatest unmet challenges of postburn injury care and psychosocial reintegration. Although scarring, itch, and pain have been clinically associated, there are no prospective, multisite studies examining tissue autograft site pain or itch and scar outcomes. The authors collected a representative cohort (n = 56) of MThBI survivors who received autografting within 14 days of injury and evaluated graft-site pain or itch severity (0-10 Numeric Rating Scale) and HTS using a validated scar photograph assessment scale 6 months following MThBI. Given that stress is known to influence wound healing, the authors also assessed the relationship between previous trauma exposure, peritraumatic stress, preburn overall health (SF-12), scarring, and chronic pain or itch severity using Spearman's correlation. Association between HTS and chronic pain or itch was significant in a linear regression model adjusted for age, sex, and ethnicity (β = 0.2, P =.033 for pain, β = 0.2, P =.019 for itch). Results indicate that prior trauma exposure is inversely correlated (r = -.363, P =.030) with scar severity, but not pain or itch severity 6 months after MThBI. Study results suggest that preburn chronic pain or itch is associated with pathological scarring 6 months following MThBI. Results also indicate that stress may improve scarring after MThBI. Further work to understand the mechanisms that underlie both HTS and chronic pain or itch and their relationship to chronic stress is critical to the development of novel therapies to assist burn survivors recover.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mauck MC; Shupp JW; Williams F; Villard MA; Jones SW; Hwang J; Smith J; Karlnoski R; Smith DJ; Cairns BA
  • Start Page

  • 536
  • End Page

  • 544
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 4