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Treatment for Burns and Scalds

burns and scalds

Table of Contents

Burns and scalds are damages to the skin caused by heat that can sometimes lead to further health complications.

While these injuries can be extremely painful, the performance of first aid can help relieve pain, reduce damage, and limit the risk of infection.

Mild-level burns do not require a hospital visit and can be treated at home.

Definitions – Burns vs Scalds

What are “Burns”?

Burns refers to damage to the tissues and skin cells that occurs after exposure to fire, heat, electricity, chemical, radiation, or friction. Severe burns can damage the muscle and fat and even reach the bone if it is deep enough.

What are “Scalds”?

Scalds occur when a portion of the skin is exposed to a hot liquid or stream. It is often caused by coming into contact with hot bath water and cooking fluids such as grease.

Scalds can damage the outer layers of the skin, unlike burns that can cause major damage to the tissues.

First, second and superficial burns are often associated with scalds. However, there are instances where a severe scalding injury will require skin grafting and have deadly consequences if not treated in time.

Estimate shows that about 46,611 people visit the hospital due to burns or scalding injury within the five-year period. The stakes are particularly higher for young children ages four and below.

Take note that the amount of pain is not always related to how serious the burn and scalds are. Even serious burns and scalds may be relatively painless.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms may depend upon the degree of severity. Some common symptoms of burns and scalds may include:

  • Severe pain in the injury site
  • red or peeling skin
  • Blisters appearing on the injury
  • Swelling or redness
  • White or charred skin

Immediate application of first aid will help reduce the severity of the injury, resulting in fewer scars and damage.

First Aid for Burns and Scalds

Follow these first aid steps after sustaining a burn or scald.

Stop the burning process.

The first priority is to get the victim away from the heat source to stop the burning process.

This may mean removing the person from the area, putting off flames using water, or smothering flames with a blanket.

Remove any clothing or jewellery.

Remove the victim’s jewellery or clothing, unless stuck to the burn, before the area begins to swell.

Cool the burn with cool running water

Start cooling the burn or scald immediately after exposure. Hold the affected area under cool running water for at least 20 minutes or until the pain gets better.

Cover the site

After cooling the injury, cover the area using a cling film.

Put film in layers over the burn, loosely and in a lengthwise position, rather than wrapping it around a limb.

Treat the pain

Relieve pain from burns and scalds by taking paracetamol or Ibuprofen. Check the instruction from the box when using over-the-counter medication, and never give aspirin to children 16 years and below.

Monitor the casualty

If the victim starts having trouble breathing and the symptoms get worse over time, begin CPR while waiting for emergency help to arrive.

When to Seek Help

After taking these first aid steps, you must decide whether further medical treatment is necessary. Call triple zero (000) for emergency help.

For large or deeper burns and scalds that are more than the size of a person’s hand, get medical help right away. Seeking help is also a must if the victim is a high risk, whether they are pregnant, older than sixty, or under the age of five.

Watch out for symptoms of shock such as cold, clammy skin, excessive sweating, rapid shallow breathing, and general weakness.

Get Trained

The priority in burns and scalds injuries is to cool the affected area as quickly as possible. The performance of first aid also helps to relieve pain, prevent infection, and remove the possibility of complications.

Find out what to do in a burn or scald emergency by enrolling in a first aid course. Learn how to apply a dressing, clean wounds, and perform CPR in case of breathing emergencies. For more information, visit our page or reach out to us at courses@firstaidpro.com.au.

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