Burns: First Aid

Most burn injuries are preventable. However when an accident happens you must react quickly and appropriately. You can improve the outcome of your child’s burn if you use the proper first aid. Here is how. 

Burn first​ aid

Remove any heat ​source

Burn injuries are often due to scalding with hot liquid. If a hot liquid is spilled on your child, immediately remove all clothes and diapers. Clothes hold the heat and if they are kept on the burn, they may deepen the injury. Teach your child what to do if their clothing catches fire: stop, drop, and roll. Your child should not run because this will spread the flames. Rolling on the ground will smother the flames. 

Cool the b​urn 

Hold the burned or scalded area under room temperature running water for about 20 minutes. 

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Cover the burn 

Use a clean dry cloth or gauze dressing to lightly cover the burn. 

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Call 9​11 

Call for help if the burn is large, if it is on the face, hands, feet or groin, or if you are unsure what to do. 

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Do not use i​ce 

Putting ice on a burn can cause frostbite and further damage the skin. 

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Do not a​pply ointments

Applying ointments could prevent proper healing. Do not apply butter, toothpaste, lotions or other creams. 

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​Do not break blisters 

Broken blisters are more likely to get infected. 

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See a doctor even for mi​nor burns 

A doctor should examine your child’s burn or scald within 72 hours (3 days) even if it is a small injury.

Charis Kelly, RN(EC), MN​

Joel Fish, MD, MSc, FRCS(C)​