How to apply first aid to a child who has suffered a minor burn

A minor burn is a burn that is smaller than 1 inch in diameter, which is approximately 2.5cm.

If the burn is bigger than this, or shows signs of charred or pearly skin, then you need to see a doctor immediately, there is a possibility that the child may suffer shock, loss of vital bodily fluids and the burn becoming infected.

Judge the severity of the burn by the area affected, not the depth.

In the case of a thermal burn the first thing you should do is submerge the burned area in a bowl of cold water or bath tub for at least ten to twenty minutes, this will help reduce the pain and lessen the severity and potential scarring of the burn.

If the burn is on the face, apply a wet cold towel to the affected area. Replacing the towel with a cooler one periodically.

While the area is submerged, or as quickly as possible, remove any jewelery, rings, bracelets, shoes, clothing or other restrictive articles, before the affected area begins to swell.

If the child has suffered an oil burn and their clothing is covered in hot oil, pour cold water over the clothing before trying to remove the clothes.

Once the burn has started to cool off, the pain has temporarily subsided and your child (and you) is starting to calm down, gently cover the area with a clean, preferably sterile, dry cloth or a sterile non adhesive dry dressing, you should have some in your first aid kit. Hold the dressing in place with a wrap around cotton bandage. Avoid using a sticky plaster, if the surrounding skin is burnt, the skin will peel off when the bandage is removed.

If you are out and about with your baby and you do not have easy access to cold water, you can simply use any cold, non acidic drinks you may have handy in your nappy bag, milk or lemonade for example. Place a clean, unused disposable nappy over the burn until you can get to a doctor for proper medical treatment.

Try not to pop or break any skin that is blistering and avoid peeling any burnt skin off, this will help to prevent infection and any scarring.

Blisters are actually formed to help protect the body in case of burns, they protect the raw skin and trap the fluid (plasma) that leaks from the blood. Always leave the blister untouched and leave it alone as long as possible without disturbing it. It will dry up and peel of in it’s own good time. No matter how tempting it may be to burst the blister, don’t.

Do not apply any ointments, oils or creams to the affected area, just cool with water, and apply a clean dry non sticky bandage or cloth and leave it alone. The best treatment is to cover the burn and leave it. If you are concerned at all, see your doctor. Often some home remedies tell you to apply oil or butter to the affected area, this will only hold the heat in and make the burn worse.

If possible, give the child plenty of fluids along with some acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help alleviate any pain.

If the child has suffered scalding and the affected area is only reddened without any signs of blistering, still cool the area off under cold water and take the child to see a Doctor. It may appear to be minor but fluid is still leaking under the skin.

In the case of scalding inside of the mouth from drinking boiling liquid, have the child suck on an ice cube and take to the Doctor immediately.

Electrical burns are another burn that may appear less damaging than a heat or thermal burn, but under the skin there may be large amounts of tissue damage that can not be easily seen, for any electrical burns, a Doctor must be consulted at once.  There is also the risk of electrical shock.

Chemical burns are another hazard that can occur, if the child has been exposed to any household chemicals, remove any traces of the chemical by either brushing it off, if dry, or washing the child in fresh running water, prefferably the shower. Look at the label of the chemical responsible for any specific instructions on how to deal with chemical poisoning or burns and if needed, call your local poison control for any medical advice. Take the child to the doctor immediately.

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