First Aid for Burns and Scalds

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Update Date 08/07/2020 . 4 mins read
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Children are curious and constantly exploring the world around them. While allowing them to discover things on their own is highly encouraged, they may find themselves getting into accidents, which can lead to serious problems such as choking, fractures, and burns and scalds. As parents, learning first aid for burns and scalds and other common issues is important. 

Burns and scalds can be a cause of major injury to young ones. Children’s skin is highly sensitive and can get burned more easily than an adult’s. Children under the age of four are especially at risk. Injuries such as severe burns and scalds can lead to a prolonged stay at the hospital or skin graft surgery that may take years to complete. 

What Should I Do to Burns and Scalds? 

When it comes to treating burns and scalds, there are three fundamental approaches:

  • Cool the burn. Prevent the heat from spreading and affecting other areas.
  • Cover the burn. Limit its exposure to dirt, bacteria, and other harmful agents that can cause an infection.
  • Protect the burn. Allow the blister to heal properly by applying the recommended ointment and covering it with a bandage. You can use light gauze to allow the wound to “breathe.” For serious burns, consult your doctor.

How you proceed with treating your child’s burn largely depends on the severity of the case. There are three types of burns, and it is important to identify and treat each one as quickly as possible.

First-degree burn

It is characterized by red skin. It is painful, but the skin does not blister. The pain can be compared to a sunburn.

Second-degree burn

Unlike a first degree burn, blisters can develop. It is very painful since the outer layer of the skin is affected, and a part of the dermis may be damaged as well.

Third-degree burn

This is the worst kind of burn, characterized by the skin being charred, or taking on a white color. The top two layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis) are irreversibly damaged by the burn.

First Aid for Burns and Scalds

Immediate treatment of first aid is critical when it comes to burns and scalds. Here are the steps on how to apply first aid for burns and scald:

Remove any burning articles of clothing

Immediately douse any burning articles of clothing, and remove from the burned area. If the cloth or substance is stuck to the skin, remove as much as possible without causing any additional harm to the burn. 

Soak the area in cool water

When applying first aid for burns and scalds, it is crucial to soak the burned area with cold water as soon as possible. Put the affected area under cool running water for as long as necessary. This is done to relieve the pain. Take note that you should not use ice to cool the burn, as this may slow down the healing process. Also, be mindful not to rub any of the burned parts as this can cause blisters to form.

Cover the burn

If you notice that the burn is not oozing, cover the burn with a light gauze or a clean, dry cloth. If it is oozing, use sterile gauze or a clean towel or sheet to cover the burn.

Do not try any home remedies

Please do not attempt to treat the burn by using any home remedies. Putting butter, grease, or powder on a burn may cause more harm than good. Seek medical attention immediately if there is severe injury. 

As part of treatment, some doctors may recommend additional vitamins and supplements like zinc to help in wound healing.

First aid for burns and scalds

What Causes Scalds or Burns?

As any hot object can scald a child, be mindful to keep these away from them. 

Ensure to keep the following out of reach from small children: 

  • Hot coffee or tea
  • Hot water from saucepans, jugs, thermoses, or kettles
  • Food and sauces that are too hot
  • Coal and coal ashes
  • Friction burns (from treadmills)
  • Hot water from the bath or heater
  • Lighters and matches
  • Cooking oil
  • Steam and vapor (from radiators)
  • Vehicle exhausts

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Burns may be serious injuries that require immediate medical care. 

Immediately rush to the hospital if your child is experiencing any of these:

  • The burn area is extensive
  • The cause of the burn is a fire or an electric injury from an electrical socket
  • The burn is on the face, feet, joints, or genitals
  • There are signs of infection, while it is healing

While your child’s burn is healing, an infection may occur. Be mindful and watch out for any possible signs of infection. Here are some symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Pus
  • Increased redness or red streaking within the burned area 

How to Prevent Burns and Scalds

Aside from experiencing incredible pain caused by burns and scalds, a person may have to deal with lifelong complications due to the injury.  As such, it is important to prevent any burns before they can harm your child. Here are some ideas on how to avoid burns and scalds:

  • Be careful when using heaters, candles, or curling irons. 
  • Make sure to keep children away from hot drinks, the stove, and cooking appliances.
  • Be mindful of the temperature of the water when bathing your child
  • Check the batteries of your smoke alarm every month. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your house, preferably in or near the kitchen. 
  • Keep your children away from the kitchen when cooking or heating. 

Key Takeaways

Curiosity can get the best of children and may lead them to accidents. While burns and scalds are mostly minor, some can cause incredible pain and lifelong complications. So as parents, it is important to keep a watchful eye on your kids. Aside from learning first aid for burns and scalds, you should teach and remind children always to be careful.

Keep problematic appliances and objects away from children’s reach. Place guards on electrical sockets, utilize baby gates in the kitchen, make sure that appliances sit level on countertops, and be mindful of hot pans, plates, and cups that are placed on tables.

You can find more information on Healthy Habits here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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