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Nov 2012

Atomic Bomb Lexicon

Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(11):1298. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2012.3129

With the dropping of 2 atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, a whole new terminology developed to describe the resulting devastation. This article lists some of the terms that are relevant to dermatology. It is intended to serve as a remembrance for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is also a reminder of what can happen, even to 1 organ system, should mankind foolishly unleash upon itself another nuclear weapon.

Flash burns are injuries that are caused by exposure to thermal radiation. When the atomic bombs exploded, there was an intense flash of light that spread over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing burns.1 Some persons who were close to the hypocenter were incinerated, leaving behind only their shadows imprinted on the ground. Of the 90 000 to 166 000 persons who were killed in Hiroshima and the 60 000 to 80 000 persons who were killed in Nagasaki, approximately 20% to 30% died of burns.2

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