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First Aid Treatment for Scolding Burns

One of a parent’s most common fears is for their child to receive a form of burn. This is in part for both the pain it causes and the long term scaring that it can leave. So what is the correct First Aid treatment for Scolding or Thermal Burns?

  1. Cool the affected area immediately

We know that placing the affected area immediately under running cold water, for 20 minutes, is the most effective treatment for scolding burns. Leaving it for 20 minutes is critical in both reducing pain and long term scarring.

A recent study by the Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research in Queensland found that only 28% of children, admitted to Lady Cilento Hospital in Queensland were treated with cold running water for 20 minutes. The study found the most common reason parents why did not do it for the recommended length of time was that “they thought it was adequate or the child was too distressed”.

In treating a toddler or child with cold running water it’s important to not place them entirely in a bath or shower as this may lead to hypothermia. Instead, only place the affected area under cool running water and provide them with a blanket or towel to keep them warm or hug them, using your body warmth to keep them warm.

Finally don’t use ice, creams or oils for treatment.

  1. Remove clothing and Jewellery

If the scolding burn has occurred through clothing remove them quickly and carefully from the affected area. If they are stuck to the skin DO NOT remove them.

If they have any jewellery remove it as well as they may continue to radiate heat and it could also reduce circulation if swelling occurs.

  1. Cover the affected area

Cover the affected area with cling wrap. This will reduce the risk of infection. Do Not attempt to pop any blisters.

  1. Seek medical attention.

The Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma research recommend that for all burns on children you should seek medical attention by calling an ambulance or going to the hospital.

For adults, if the burn is larger than 50c piece, on the face, hands or groin or white in colour (this is a deep burn) seek medical attention.

As they say, prevention is better than cure so remain vigilant when you have hot liquids around toddlers and keep them out of reach at all times.

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