Health Corner

One of the more common injuries we see in the paediatric A&E are scalds and burns. These can be due to hot drinks, soups, open fires, cookers and radiators, as well as some chemical burns from corrosive liquids. The extent of the damage caused depends on the temperature of the heat source, the location on the body and the duration of exposure, which is where immediate first aid carried out at home is crucial.

First aid – Follow these steps:

STOP the burning process IF it is safe for you to do so – i.e. dousing flames.

Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area of skin, including nappies. Do not try to remove any materials stuck to the skin.

COOL the area ASAP with cool running water for 20 minutes. This reduces pain and swelling and the risk of scarring. Do not use ice water, ice or any oils/butter. The sooner and longer the burn is cooled, the less the impact of the injury. We will do this in the A&E department if it has not been done at home already.

For younger children, try to avoid putting the whole body under cool water due to the risk of hypothermia. A shower head is a good way to direct the water flow.

COVER over the burn area with cling film. A clean, clear bag can be used for hands. Do not use any plasters or bandages.

Keep warm and take painkillers.

When to go to hospital

If any of the following occur, you should go to hospital (call 999 if necessary):

Any areas have charred or white skin

Any affected area is bigger than person’s hand.

Any burns on the face/hands/arms/ feet/ legs/ genitals that have caused blisters.

All chemical and electrical burns.

Any other injuries that need treating

If there are any signs of shock (cold/clammy skin, sweating, breathing difficulties, weakness or dizziness).

All burns and scalds in under 5 year olds and over 60 year olds (they can be very vulnerable to burns, become hypothermic and dehydrated leading to shock).

Anyone with a chronic medical condition such as lung or heart disease or a weakened immune system.

Any signs of smoke inhalation

Signs of smoke inhalation

Coughing or sore throat.

Difficulty breathing.

Singed nasal hair.

Facial burns.

Remember, first aid at home really can make all the difference.


Dr. Yuheng Zhou

Teddington Resident & Paediatric Consultant

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