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Treating minor burns and scalds

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Treatment for burns and scalds

As soon as burns or scalds occur it is vital to treat them with appropriate first aid as this limits the damage to the skin. When treating minor burns and scalds be aware that it could potentially mean a trip to the hospital for specialist attention.

When to go to Hospital?

Go straight to the Accident and Emergency department at your local hospital if the injured person:

(1) Is suffering a burn or scald due to a chemical or electrical burn

(2) Has a deep or large burn

(3) Has a thickness burn (burns that cause white or charred skin)

(4) Is suffering a partial thickness burn to the limbs, hands, feet, face or genitals

(5) Has other injuries

(6) Is going into shock (signs for this are sweating, clammy skin, rapid or shallow breathing)

(7) Is expecting a child

(8) Is over the age of 60

(9) Is under the age of 5

(10) Has a medical condition such as diabetes, lung or liver disease or heart problems

burns and scalds

Electrical burns

Electrical burns may not always look serious but they can be very damaging. If the person has experienced a low voltage injury (up to 240 volts), switch off the power supply safely and seek medical help.

If you are dealing with a minor burn or scald the NHS suggest the following treatment;

(1) Stop the burning – as soon as you possibly can stop the burning process, this may mean removing the injured person from the area and dousing flames with water. Do not put yourself at risk.

(2) Remove – Take off any jewellery or clothing near to the affected area although remember it is vital that you do not remove anything stuck to the area as you may end up doing more harm than good.

(3) Cool – try to cool the area with cool or tepid water within the first 20 minutes of the incident happening for 10-30 minutes. Never use creams, oily substances or iced water.

(4) Keep warm – Use a blanket or clothing to keep the injured person warm, this will prevent hypothermia. Try not to cover the burn or scald directly.

(5) Cover – It’s vital to cover the area with cling film, if the burn or scald is on your hand then use a clear plastic bag.

(6) Treat – It’s important to ease the pain with Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. Check the leaflet that accompanies the medication though and remember that under 16’s shouldn’t be given Aspirin.

Sunburn cases

If you experience painful red sunburn then move indoors or into the shade, have a cool shower and take some paracetamol to ease any pain. It’s also advisable to stay hydrated as much as possible.




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