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Burns to Skin by Millisecond Light Pulses

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The radiant energy required to produce skin burns for thermal radiation exposures with durations less than 100 milliseconds has never been measured. To determine values for durations in the order of milliseconds, burns were produced on the depilated skin of albino rats by exposure to the irradiance from a xenon flash lamp energized with 14,000 joules. The intensity of the radiant pulse peaked in 0.4 millisecond and decayed to one-half the peak value in 5 millisecond. The threshold burn - a lesion exhibiting a scab - occurred in one-half of the exposures at a distance from the lamp at which the radiant exposure was 3.5 calsq cm. Minor lesions of short duration occurred at 2 calsq cm. In general the scabs appeared thinner than those which develop as a result of exposures of longer duration. To study the effect of pigmentation and to provide data which would be more amenable to mathematical analysis, another experiment was run with the skin made opaque with a thin black film. For the opaque situation the temperature profile history can be determined with greater certainty, since the energy is absorbed only at the surface and not in depth in the skin as in the case of the uncovered situation. For the blackened skin, a radiant exposure of only 0.35 calsq cm produced scab lesions in one-half of the exposures and minor burns occurred at 0.2 calsq cm. The course of the burn recovery was studied pictorially. Author

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