What do I do if my child gets burnt?

No one plans for an accident, that is why they are called accidents. 

What do you do if your child gets burnt?  With hot water, steam, fire etc.

Scalds can be caused by hot drinks or hot water; make the area safe; remove clothing if it isn't stuck to the burn.

Photo credit: The Australian Parenting Website

What sort of burns require a visit to the hospital?

It is important to know that there are several types of burns:

The most common one is known as Thermal or Heat burn…the type caused by hot water, steam, hot food etc.

Chemical burns are either acid or alkaline 
Acid e.g. car batteries 
Alkali e.g. Bleach at home 
Chemical burns are usually horrible burn and many don’t know how to manage it 

Electrical burns

Radiation burns (uncommon in this part of the world)

If any of the following types of burns occur, go to the hospital immediately:

  • Any burn involving the hand, private part, face or any major parts of the body
  • Inhalation injury 
  • Chemical burn no matter how small
  • Electrical burn no matter how small  (ps. An electrical burn is worse because it has what we call ice berg phenomena i.e. what you see outside is not a true representative of the severity of injury) 


What to do in event of burn accident 

  • Call for help if you are in an enclosed area especially in a fire accident.
  • Pour a lot of water on the area involved, preferably cold water
  • Water helps with  a lot of the burn injuries to cool the skin and reduce the severity except in some rare cases of chemical burn injury 
  • Remove the child from the site of injury 
  • Remove clothing as quickly as possible 
  • The same principle applies in chemical burn 
  • In the event of an electrical injury, turn off the light from the source or disconnect the object 
  • Do not apply things like urine ,pap, egg and so on as this could lead to infection
  • Do not apply salt on the wound, not only is it painful but because salt will dehydrate the wound, due to its hygroscopic property meaning it can absorb water. 

The first 24 hours after a burn are very important even though complications can still arise afterwards but a lot of mistakes are made in the first 24hours.

Please try your possible best to ensure a burn never takes place. Prevention is better than cure. Buut in the event that it happens, you now know what to do.




Culled from a lecture on the Ask the Paeditricians Facebook Group

By Dr Ayobami Aranmolate, Consultant, Burns & Plastic Surgeon. 

MD/CEO  Grandville Medical Laser Center Surulere, Lagos


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