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Burns and Scalds

Burns and Scalds


Treating pain caused by
Burns and Scalds

Burns and scalds occur when tissue is damaged as a result of contact with heat.

Burns can be classified into four categories:

  • First-degree burns. In comparison to other burns, first-degree burns are superficial or minor. They produce epidermal reddening and discomfort to the outer layer of the skin.
  • Second-degree burns. The epidermis and dermis are affected by second-degree burns, the partial-thickness burns the lower layer of skin. Pain, redness, swelling, and blistering are all symptoms.
  • Third-degree burns. Burns of the third degree are full thickness burns that penetrate the dermis and damage the deeper tissue. They cause burnt, bleached or blackened skin that may be numb.
  • Fourth-degree burns. These are more serious than third-degree burns and can cause muscle and bone damage. Nerve endings are also injured or destroyed, so the burned area is devoid of sensation.

Symptoms of Burns and scalds

Burns have different symptoms depending on the source and type of burn:

First-degree burns:

  • Red, painful skin
  • No blisters

Second-degree burns:

  • Red, painful skin
  • Blisters
  • Swelling

Third-degree burns:

  • White, black, deep red or charred skin
  • It may be painful but could be numb

Fourth-degree burns:

  • No feeling in the area
  • Destroyed skin tissue, fat, muscle and possibly bone

Some people may experience shock depending on the severity of the burns and scalds. Shock can cause pale, clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and fingernails, and a loss of awareness, among other things.

Burns of the first and second degrees normally heal on their own, but third and fourth-degree burns require immediate medical intervention. If a second-degree burn is severe and does not improve quickly, see a doctor.

Causes of Burns and scalds

The most common type of burns and scalds is thermal. When flames, hot metals, scalding liquids, or steam come into contact with skin, they cause burns. House fires, vehicle accidents, culinary accidents, and electrical problems are all examples of situations where this can occur.

Other potential sources of burns and scalds include:

  • Chemicals
  • Electricity
  • Friction
  • Heated objects
  • Radiation
  • The sun

Burns and scalds Complications

Major burns and scalds should be treated as soon as possible since they can cause serious health problems, including:
  • Sepsis. When bacteria enter your bloodstream, it causes an illness.
  • Tetanus. A sickness caused by bacteria that enter the body through an open wound
  • Hypovolemia. A potentially fatal loss of bodily fluids such as blood
  • Hypothermia. A significant decrease in body temperature
  • Smoke or heated air causes breathing problems
  • Scar tissue’s actions on the skin, muscles, or tendons create bone and joint disorders

When to call a doctor

Whether or whether your burn required medical attention, you should see a doctor if:

  • The burns and scalds becomes painful or smelly
  • You develop a high temperature of 38C or higher
  • The dressing becomes soaked with fluid leaking from the wound
  • The wound hasn’t healed after 2 weeks

Burns and scalds Treatments

Any burns or scalds should be treated as quickly as possible with appropriate first aid. This will reduce the amount of skin damage.

The first aid techniques listed here can be used on yourself or another person who has been burned.


First aid for burns and scalds

  • As quickly as feasible, put an end to the burning process. This could entail evacuating the individual from the vicinity, smothering the flames with a blanket, or dousing them with water. Do not put yourself in danger of getting burned.
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery that comes in contact with the burned area of skin, including baby diapers. However, do not attempt to remove anything adhering to the scorched skin as this may result in further harm.
  • As soon as possible after the injury, cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes. Use ice, chilled water, creams, or oily items like butter sparingly.
  • Warm yourself or the other person. Use a blanket or layers of clothing to keep warm, but keep them away from the affected area. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature falls below 35 degrees Celsius (95F). When cooling a large scorched area, this is a risk, especially for young children and the elderly.
  • Wrap cling film around the burn. Rather than putting the cling film around a limb, place it on top of the burn. For burns on your hand, use a clean clear plastic bag.
  • If your face or eyes are burned, try to sit as erect as possible. As much as possible, avoid reclining down because this will assist in minimising swelling.
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve the pain of a burn. When using over-the-counter medication, always follow the manufacturer’s directions. Aspirin should not be given to children under the age of 16.

When to go to the hospital for burns and scalds

Following these processes, you must determine whether more medical care is required.

Visit an A&E department or urgent treatment care at a hospital if you need to:

  • Burns that are larger than the affected person’s hand
  • Burns of any size that result in scorched or white skin
  • Blistering burns on the face, hands, arms, feet, legs, or genitals
  • All electrical and chemical burns

Also, get medical attention right once the individual has been burned if:

  • They have other injuries that need to be addressed
  • Showing signs of shock symptoms include cold, clammy skin, sweating, quick, shallow breathing, weakness, and dizziness.
  • Is pregnant
  • Is over 60 years old
  • Is a child under the age of five
  • Having other medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart, lung, or liver illness
  • Has a weakened immune system – for example, as a result of HIV or AIDS, or as a result of cancer chemotherapy

If someone has inhaled smoke or fumes, they should seek medical help as well.

Some symptoms, which may be delayed, include:

  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Singed nasal hair
  • Facial burns

Electrical burns

Electrical burns may not appear to be significant, yet they can be extremely harmful. If you have an electrical burn, you should go to the nearest A&E department right away.

If a low-voltage source (up to 220 to 240 volts), such as a residential electricity supply, has hurt the person, securely turn off the power supply or remove the person from the electrical source using a non-conducting item, such as a wooden stick or a wooden chair.

Approaching someone who is connected to a high-voltage source is dangerous (1,000 volts or more).

Acid and chemical burns

Acid and chemical burns can be extremely painful and necessitate prompt medical attention in an emergency room.

If at all feasible, determine the chemical that caused the burn and inform the A&E staff.

Put on necessary protective clothing if you’re assisting someone else, and then:

  • Any hazardous clothing on the person should be removed
  • Brush the chemical off their skin if it’s dry.
  • Remove any traces of the chemical from the burned area with running water.


Follow the steps below if you get sunburned:

  • Move into the shade or, better yet, inside if you observe any signs of sunburn, such as hot, red, and painful skin.
  • Cool the burnt region of skin with a cool bath or shower.
  • To moisturise, chill, and soothe the affected region, apply aftersun lotion. Use greasy or oily items sparingly.
  • If you’re in pain, using paracetamol or ibuprofen should assist. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions before using aspirin, and never give it to a child under the age of 16.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which occurs when the temperature within your body increases to 37 to 40 degrees Celsius (98.6 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher. Dizziness, a quick pulse, and vomiting are some of the symptoms.

If a person suffering from heat exhaustion is swiftly transported to a cool location, given water to drink, and their clothes loosen, they should feel better within half an hour.

They risk developing heatstroke if they don’t. This is a medical emergency, therefore dial 999 to call an ambulance.

Burns and scalds Prevention

Babies and young toddlers are particularly vulnerable to serious burns and scalds. The following tips will help lessen the chances of your child being involved in a major accident.

In the kitchen

  • It’s best to keep your toddler out of the kitchen, away from hot oven doors, kettles, and saucepans, you could put a safety gate across the doorway to keep them out.
  • To avoid it being grabbed, use a kettle with a short or curly cable that hangs over the edge of the work surface.
  • When cooking, use the rings at the rear of the cooker and turn the saucepan handles away from your child’s reach.

In the bathroom

  • Never, ever leave a child under the age of five alone in the bath, even for a second.
  • To manage the temperature of your bath’s hot tap, install a thermostatic mixing valve.
  • Fill the bath with cold water first, then hot water – Before you put your baby or toddler in the bath, test the temperature with your elbow.

Throughout the home

  • After you’ve finished using your iron, hair straighteners, or curling tongs, keep them out of reach while they cool down.
  • All fires and heaters should have fireguards installed.
  • Keep matches, lighters, and lit candles out of reach of young children.

Hot drinks

  • Keep hot drinks out of reach of small children, they can still scald 20 minutes after being made.
  • Place hot drinks on the table before holding your infant.
  • Before feeding, shake the bottle well after warming it and test the temperature of the milk by putting a few drops on the inside of your wrist, it should feel lukewarm, not hot.
  • Do not allow your youngster to consume a hot beverage with a straw.

Preventing sunburn

  • Encourage your child to play in the shade (e.g., under trees) between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun is at its hottest.
  • Keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight, especially during the noon hours.
  • Wear loose, baggy cotton clothing on your youngster, such as an enormous T-shirt with sleeves.
  • Wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shadows your child’s face and neck.
  • Even on gloomy or overcast days, apply sunscreen to exposed areas of your child’s skin, Most children’s sunscreens have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50 and are effective against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Reapply sunscreen frequently throughout the day, even water-resistant sunscreens should be reapplied after swimming.