White phosphorus, it’s a burning issue

Dr Rachel Kornhaber1,2,3, Dr  Uri Aviv2,4, Dr Moti Harats2,3,4, Professor Josef Haik1,2,3,4

1College of Health and Medicine, University of Tasmania, Rozelle , Australia, 2National Burns Center, Sheba Medical Center, Israel, Tel Hashomer, Israel, 3Institute for Health Research, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Israel, 4Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel


Burns from white phosphorus however rare and a challenge for burn clinicians. Associated with smaller surface areas, white phosphorus burns have a high morbidity rate. White phosphorus is used for military purposes and within industry for the manufacture of fireworks and agricultural products and is identified as a chemical burn. We present the case of a 40 years old who sustained a 2% partial to full thickness burn from white phosphorus. The burns were treated conservatively with mafenide acetate on the medial calf and dorsum of foot and Flaminal Forte was used for the palmar region. 22 days after admission the patient was discharged and followed up in the outpatient clinic. Despite the use of pressure garments, hypertrophic scarring began to develop on the dorsum of her right foot. During peacetime, white phosphorus possess a significant danger to civilians with the need for greater awareness of the unique nature of white phosphorus among both military and burn clinicians.


Rachel Kornhaber is a senior lecturer in Nursing at the University of Tasmania (Sydney campus). Before commencing at UTAS in 2014, Rachel worked as a burns clinician at the Severe Burn Injury Unit, Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Australia and was the Coordinator of the Masters of Burns Nursing at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. Rachel’s research interests are in the area of burns/trauma informed care and she regularly publishes in key peer reviewed journals. She is a member of the Mental and Critical Care Health node (MaCCH). Rachel is also an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow with the University of Notre Dame, Burns Node, Western Australia, appointed as the current International Society for Burn Injuries Committee Chair for Research and a Research Fellow with the National Burns Center, Sheba Medical Centre, Israel.




ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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