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3 - 5yrs Clinic

First Aid

Burns - What to do

Burns can happen suddenly and the pain and damage caused can be devastating. Knowing what to do if this should happen can make a massive difference in reducing the amount of pain and scarring experienced and may avoid them having any tissue damage at all.

 For All Burns Treat Them Immediately With Cool Running Water!

  • Immediately, but extremely carefully remove loose clothing covering the burn. DO NOT TAKE CLOTHES OFF IF THERE IS ANY RISK THAT THE SKIN HAS STUCK TO THEM OR IF THE SKIN HAS BLISTERED.
  • Put the affected area under cool running water for at least 10 minutes. Remember you are cooling the burn and not the child.
  • Keep the child warm and dry and look out for any signs of shock.
  • Phone an ambulance, particularly if a large area is affected, or if the skin is broken or blistered and keep the area under cool running water whilst you are waiting for the ambulance.

A burn is measured using the size of your hand - your palm is roughly equivalent to 1% of your body. Therefore a burn measuring just the size of a 50pence can be very serious for a baby or small child.

If the burn is caused by a chemical, run under cool running water for at least 20 minutes and be careful of the run off as it could still be corrosive and hurt you. Look at the advice on the packaging and see if there are any specific instructions.

  • Cool the area under a shower for at least 10 minutes or apply repeated cool wet towels for 15 minutes.
  • When completely cooled, apply neat Aloe Vera gel to the affected area, this will soothe, reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Give the child plenty to drink and seek medical advice.

Electrical burns:

Always ensure that the area is safe if someone has been electrocuted. Do not touch them until you have turned the electricity off at the mains. Electrical burns have an entry and exit and burn all the way through the inside. Therefore the electrical burn is unlikely to be the most important injury and should not be a distraction when they may be losing consciousness and could stop breathing as a result of the shock affecting their heart.

Burns to the; hands, face, feet, genitals, airways, or a burn that extends all the way around a limb, are particularly serious. Keep the burnt area under cool running water until the paramedic arrives. All burns are serious, particularly when dealing with children. Often people have different depths of burn within a single injury. Whatever the depth of burn, they should all be treated under cool running water.

Treating a burn promptly under cool running water for at least 10 minutes makes a huge difference to the severity of a burn and therefore the amount of pain, scaring and length of time in hospital that the child may experience. Never touch the burn, pop blisters, or put on any creams whatsoever. Take burns very seriously and always seek medical advice.


Dressing a burn

A burn should never be dressed until it has been cooled for at least 15 minutes. Covering a burn reduces the risk of infection and reduces pain by covering exposed nerve endings.

If a child is burnt and the burn is bad enough that you need to dress it phone an ambulance whilst continuing to cool it under running water and the paramedics will dress it for you. If you want to dress the burn: cling film is a good temporary dressing. Ensure you have cooled the burn for at least 15 minutes before dressing it. Discard the first couple of turns of cling film and place an inner piece loosely over the burn. Plastic bags and non-fluffy dressings also make useful dressings. Proper burns dressings are great, but ideally the burn should be cooled for at least 10 minutes before dressing. Always get a medical professional to assess a burn.

  • Remove anything that has stuck to a burn.
  • Touch a burn.
  • Burst blisters.
  • Apply any creams, lotions or fats.
  • Apply tight dressings, tapes or use anything fluffy.



First Aid For LifeFirst Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

For more information please visit www.firstaidforlife.org.uk

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