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  • Writer's pictureFi Ramos

Burns & Scalds

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

Whilst very rarely life threatening, burns are common amongst young children and are one of the biggest reasons for them going to A&E. About seventy percent of paediatric burns occur in under 4-year old’s, as they have sensitive skin and burn severely on ‘cup of tea’ that have been made 10 minutes ago.

Burns are are caused by dry heat, such as fire, hot objects, electricity. Scalds are caused by wet heat: hot liquids, steam. Scald injuries tend to be the most common type of thermal injury under the age of 5, while fire injuries tends to occur in older children

Children are most likely to get burned, as they are curious, impulsive, active and have no sense of danger. They may put a cable in their mount, try to put something into a socket etc. Especially when it comes to electrical burns, the initial treatment is to insulate the source, remove child from further danger and keep safe.

Common symptoms of burns, are redness & swelling initially and blisters later.

What to do:

  • According to the Resuscitation council UK, the most efficient and recommended treatment for burns is to run the area under cool water to bring the temperature down. This also significantly reduces tissue damage, scarring and fastens the skin’s healing process. Ice water leads to hypothermia. Continue to run under water at least for 10 minutes (current guidelines advice 20 minutes), as the skin can continue to burn internally even after it's removed from heat. Don’t bath children after a burn, as warm water or heat can cause more swelling on the burnt area.

  • To prevent infection, cover the burn with a dry, clean and non-fluffy material such as cling film. If you have use sterile non-adhesive dressing. Amusingly, cling film also works as pain relief, as children experience pain once air get through to the injured skin. If you don't have any cling film, you can use a clean plastic bag instead. Be sure not to wrap the burn too tightly.

  • If it’s a severe, painful or larger than a 50p coin, or affecting areas such as the face, hands, feet, or genital area, you need to seek medical assistance. All children with burns are generally advised to go to hospital.

  • You should never cool burns with ice, that can reduce the blood flow to the skin and lead to the condition deteriorating. Do not apply oils, creams and ointments, as this can prevent the heat from getting out and create bacteria. Do not touch or burst blisters due to infection risk. Adhesive dressings should not be applied to burns and if clothing or jewellery has stuck to the burn, this shouldn’t be removed.


Written by Fi Ramos, Public Health Nurse & First Aid Instructor at Act2care.

Information on this site is evidence based and provided to create awareness and advice only. If you are worried about a condition, seek medical advice.

Theoretical first aid tips are beneficial, however practical demonstrations and exercises are necessary for gaining high standard of first aid knowledge and skills.

If you are interested in gaining first aid skills, contact Fi to find our more about our paediatric first aid classes at

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