Tom was in his early twenties when a flammable liquid was poured onto a barbecue which set alight. He sustained burns to his hands, chest, knees, forearms, and face. Tom stayed in hospital for 5 days. He decided not to have skin grafts and let his skin heal naturally.

Tom was attending a family barbecue at his parents’ house when flammable liquid was poured onto the BBQ to relight the coals. Tom was burned by the flames. He sustained 25% TBSA (total body surface area) burns to his hands, chest, knees, forearms, and face.

Tom felt very disorientated immediately after being burned and did not realise he was “fully on fire”, he now believes he was experiencing a state of shock. When he realised what had happened, Tom “dropped and rolled” before running into a nearby stream to cool his burns. Tom’s father then assisted him into the shower where running water was applied to his burns. An ambulance was called and Tom was taken to hospital.

At the hospital Tom remembers being intubated before he was transported to a specialist burns unit. He woke up after 2 days of intubation in an intensive care unit. When Tom awoke, he remembers feeling confused and uncomfortable because he wasn’t aware what had happened. He also felt uncertain about the future and how his scars would look.

Tom felt relieved when he was discharged from the hospital and able to continue his recovery at home. In the initial few weeks after his burn, Tom sometimes felt annoyed that his usual daily tasks would take longer, such as showering as he had to be careful not to wet his bandages. Speaking about returning to daily life after a burn, Tom said that “everything which you’d normally not even think about was a bit of a difficulty”.

Sometimes Tom experiences itching and stiffness around his scars, especially after washing up, he says moisturising the scars helps to combat this. He believes taking care of his skin has now become part of his daily routine.

Although Tom is still nervous around fires, he says that living with a burn injury gets easier over time, and he feels that he is in control over his own life. He appreciates other people treating him “as a normal person” and not staring at his scars. Tom thinks that talking about his experience of having a burn is helpful sometimes because it “gets rid of any worries if you talk about stuff”.

Tom’s advice to healthcare professionals working with people with burns is to be honest with their patients and ensure that they have access to relevant information about burns. Initially after his burn, Tom says one of his biggest stressors was not having the answers he wanted, and he believes healthcare professionals can change this for the future by providing accessible information.


Tom wanted to recover at home as he found being an inpatient “uncomfortable”.

Age at interview 24

Tom recalled feeling worried and stressed about earning an income after he was burnt

Age at interview 24