sloughing shedding

Discussion in 'English Only' started by redgiant, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    I insisted on changing the dressing on his hand ,which was pussing and sloughing off burnt skin.

    Source: The Best American Travel Writing 2006

    Background: A Chinese driver picked up an American traveler on the way to the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet for an annual pilgrimage. After a few miles, the driver smoked a cigarette. It wasn't until the American yelled at him that he realized one of the gloves was burning. He immediately rushed out of the car and stomped out the flames. His hand was burnt so severely that he wasn't able to drive anymore. The traveler applied a tourniquet to his hand and decided to replace him in the driver seat for the rest of the bumpy ride.

    Sloughing off burnt skin and shedding off burnt skin seem pretty close in meaning. Would "shedding off burnt skin also work fine in the example?
  2. vincix

    vincix Senior Member

    As far as I know, "to slough off" is synonymous with "shed". There isn't much of a difference, except collocations, i.e. "shed light on something" etc. On the other hand, I don't think you can use "off" after "shed". So a more correct sentence would be "shed the burnt skin", without the "off" or, of course, "sloughing off the burnt skin". The FreeDictionary gives two eloquent example, in my opinion:

    The snake sloughed its old skin off.
    It sloughed off its skin.

    It also says that "slough off" is literary, so that's obviously important when it comes to the register you're using.
  3. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    I've only seen sloughing in the context of debridlement of burned skin.
  4. Sparky Malarky

    Sparky Malarky Moderator

    English - US
    Unrelated, but are you sure you don't mean a bandage instead of a tourniquet? A tourniquet is used only if there is severe bleeding. The driver's had would probably have to be amputated if he had put on a tourniquet.
  5. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I'm sure it was a bandage. And it wasn't debridement (not "debridlement"), which is a deliberate medical procedure. Sloughing off is correct. "Shedding" is used for dry, flaky material falling from a surface (e.g., dandruff), not what was happening with the burned tissue here.
  6. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thank you all.
    My mistake. I didn't realize the significant distinction between a bandage and a tourniquet. It should be "a bandage" the American grabbed from her first aid kit. Putting a tourniquet on a burnt finger would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

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