If your baby, toddler or child gets a burn: Run the affected area under cold water for at least 10 minutes or until the pain has lessened – whichever is longest.
If your baby or child is burned in any way at all, whether it’s mild or severe, the initial treatment is the same: run it under cold water for at least 10 minutes.
If it looks deep, severe, or is larger than the size of the child’s hand and you have someone with you, ask them to call an ambulance while you begin the water treatment.
If you’re on your own, call the ambulance while you’re running the burn under cold water. Don’t wait to start the water treatment.
You need to run the burn under water for this amount of time because it takes a long time to take the heat out of the burn.
Position the burn under the tap and begin to run the water over it, letting the water cascade all over the burn. The skin will start to get cold and your child might find the treatment upsetting but it’s essential you take the heat down.
The fact your child is upset is a secondary issue (albeit upsetting in itself). You must keep the burn under the cold running water so stay as calm as you can while holding your child. Chat and sing to them to try to distract them.
Burns to the face are very serious in all cases since swelling from the burn might block or narrow your child’s airways.
Water should be gently poured over the affected area, angling the head in a way that ensures it doesn’t affect the airways.
In general, facial burns (especially in a child) should be treated at hospital.
St John Ambulance defines three levels of severity:
1) A superficial burn (a bit red and sore);
2) A partial thickness burn (started to blister);
3) A full thickness burn (maybe blackened or charred or may be white or and waxy).
The treatment is the same for all three types. The pain can be just as intense for a less severe burn since there are lots of nerve endings just under the skin.
1) If the child is under five
Call an ambulance or get immediate medical help at A&E if any child under the age of five years old receives a burn or scald.
You still need to run cold water over the burn for 10 minutes, though, since the burn will keep damaging the skin / deeper tissues until it is cooled.
2) If the burn is larger than 1% of the body (size of the hand), or deep, or severe
If the burn is larger than 1% of the patient’s body surface area (approximately the size of the patient’s hand), your child should be taken to hospital for further assessment.
3) A burn to the face
Always call an ambulance for a burn to the face, in case the airways are restricted in any way.
No – never burst any blisters that form after a burn as they could then become infected.
No. Never use butter or toothpaste on a burn as this will not help and may make it worse.
If it’s been run under the cold water for long enough and the heat’s been taken out you can safely cover the burn with something such as cling film. Even a clean plastic bag would do temporarily. Don’t use a bandage or anything fluffy like cotton, as it could stick to the burn.
Keep your child still – moving around will oxygenate the flames and encourage them to spread.
Drop your child to the ground if you have to, ideally by grabbing them and hugging them in something made of heavy-duty wool like a rug, coat or blanket.
Roll them along the ground until the flames have been smothered.
Treat as outlined above. Call for an ambulance immediately.
Here is a summary of treatment of a burn: