Burns and Scalds

Contributed by : Ravina Sewani   
Burns and Scalds

Children have a more delicate skin than adults so burns and scalds affect them severely.

Children have a more delicate skin than adults so burns and scalds affect them severely. Burns and scalds are not the same. Burns are caused by dry heat, for example, by an iron or fire. Scalds, on the other hand, are caused by wet heat, for example, hot water or steam.

Burns and scalds cause:

  • Red or peeling skin
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin 

Burns are of 3 levels - first, second, and third degree burns:

  • First degree burns are mild causing pain and reddening of the skin. Second degree burns cause redness, swelling, pain, and blistering. Third degree burns cause white, blackened, or charred skin that may be numb.
  • First degree burns can be treated at home. Second and third degree burns need medical attention immediately.

A few things to keep in mind before treating burns at home:

  • If the source of the burn is electrical, do not touch your child. First turn off the switch.
  • If the source of the burn is anything hot or due to any chemical, remove the agent and run cool water over the burn.
  • If your child's clothing is on fire, make them stop running, cover their face, drop them to the floor, and extinguish the fire with a blanket. If your child is old enough to understand instructions, ask them to stop walking/running, cover their face with their hands, drop to the floor, and roll on the floor to put the fire out.

Treating burns and scalds at home:

  • Soak the burn in cool (not cold) water for at least 15 minutes. Do not use ice.
  • If there is any clothing attached with the burn, do not peel it. Cut the extra clothing around it.
  • Cover the burn using a clean cloth or an antibiotic ointment.
  • Do not pop any blisters.
  • If your child is experiencing pain, ask your child's paediatrician to prescribe medication for the pain.

Preventing burns:

  • Kids are curious by nature so it is up to parents to take proper precautions which will prevent injuries from burns and scalds. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Keep the water temperature for bathing young children between 37 to 38 C.
  • Do not leave kids unsupervised in the bathroom or kitchen.
  • Keep hot drinks and handles out of reach of children.
  • Never carry hot things when holding children.

Call the doctor if:

  • The burned area is charred or white.
  • Electric shock or chemicals caused the burn.
  • The burn is on the face, hands, feet, genitals, or a joint.
  • The burn covers 10% or more of the body.

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