Learn to recognise the severity of burns and scalds, and what kind of burn treatment to administer at home before seeking medical treatment.
Injuries from burns and scalds can affect your child for life. Taking a few simple precautions in your home can protect your child from such injuries. At the same time, here are some first-aid tips for you to help your child should he/she sustain a burn or scald.
Both can result in damage to the skin, flesh or body tissue, but are caused by different factors.
A burn is generally caused by:
Scalding is typically caused by:
Most scalds are considered first or second-degree burns.
Generally, there are a few types of burns that your child may sustain, which vary in the extent of damage to your child's skin.
Superficial burns affect the top layer of the skin (i.e the epidermis) only. The skin looks red, swollen and is mildly painful. The top layer of skin may peel a day or so after the burn but the underlying skin is healthy. It does not usually blister or scar. A good example is a mild sunburn. It is considered the mildest among the types of burns.
Partial-thickness burns cause deeper damage (i.e the epidermis and the superficial part of the dermis). The skin forms blisters and is painful and red. However, some of the deeper layers of skin (the dermis) is unharmed. This means the skin usually heals well, sometimes without scarring if the burn is not too extensive.
These burns extend even deeper into the dermis. They almost always blister, are wet or waxy dry and are painful to pressure only. The skin can sometimes appear white or pale and can feel tense and there might be reduced sensation to touch. These burns are more likely to cause scarring.
Full-thickness burns damage all layers of skin. The skin is white or charred black. There may be little or no pain, as the nerve endings are destroyed. These often require skin grafting.
Electrical burns are skin burns that happen when electricity comes in contact with the body's surface. It can be caused by several sources including electrical appliances at home. When electricity comes into contact with the skin, it can travel through the body and can cause damage inside the body, to tissues and organs, even if there is little damage to the skin.
Chemical burns are tissue damage caused by strong acids, drain cleaners, pain thinners, gasoline and many other substances.
Minor burns and scalds usually heal without treatment, but more severe burns could require hospitalisation to prevent infection or further complication.
To treat a general burn, follow the first aid guide below:
Give your child an age-appropriate dose of paracetamol for pain relief if needed and if your child has no history of allergy to paracetamol.
Do NOT do the following:
See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible if:
Go straight to the Emergency Department or call an ambulance for the following:
Protect your child from burns and scalds in the home by taking these steps:
Remember to instruct your child's caregiver to observe these safety tips too.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your health, physical fitness or medical condition.
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This article was last reviewed on
Friday, September 15, 2023
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