Burns

For All BURNS – TREAT THEM IMMEDIATELY WITH COOL RUNNING WATER

  • Immediately, but extremely carefully remove loose clothing covering the burn 

DO NOT TAKE CLOTHES OFF IF THERE IS ANY RISK THAT THE SKIN HAS STUCK TO THEM OR IF THE SKIN HAS BLISTERED.

  • Put the affected area under cool running water for at least 20 minutes. Remember you are cooling the burn and not the child,
  • Keep the child warm and dry and be aware for any signs of Shock – please link.
  • Phone an ambulance, particularly if a large area is affected, or if the skin is broken or blistered and keep the area under cool running water whilst you are waiting for the ambulance.

Assessing the severity of a burn:

In a Burns Unit, staff will assess the burn on the basis of:

Size

Cause

Age

Location

Depth

 Size – the larger the area involved, the more serious it is for the casualty and the more likely they are to suffer from shock

A burn is measured using the size of your hand – your palm is roughly equivalent to 1% of your body

Cause – How the burn was caused can affect on-going treatment

Causes of burns:

A burn can be caused by many different things:

Steam

Flames

Burns caused by hot liquids – scalds

Friction

Hot objects such as irons, electric hobs, heated towel rails

Ice and extremely cold objects

Chemicals

Radiation – sun lamps

If the burn is caused by a chemical, run under cool running water for at least 20 minutes and be careful of the run off as it could still be corrosive and hurt you. Look at the advice on the packaging and see if there are any specific instructions.

Sunburn:

  • Cool the area under a shower for at least 10 minutes, or apply repeated cool wet towels for 15 minutes.
  • When completely cooled, apply neat Aloe Vera gel to the affected area, this will soothe, reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Give the child plenty to drink and seek medical advice

Electrical burns:

Always ensure that the area is safe if someone has been electrocuted:

  • Do not touch them until you have turned the electricity off at the mains. Electrical burns have an entry and exit and burn all the way through the inside. Therefore the electrical burn is unlikely to be the most important injury and should not be a distraction, when they may be losing consciousness and could stop breathing as a result of the shock affecting their heart.

Age – Burns are more serious in babies and children and the elderly

Location – Burns to the; hands, face, feet, genitals, airways, or a burn that extends all the way around a limb, are particularly serious. Keep the burnt area under cool running water until the paramedic arrives.

Depth – superficial, partial thickness or full thickness burns

All burns are serious, particularly when dealing with children. Often people have different depths of burn within a single injury. Whatever the depth of burn, they should all be treated under cool running water.

A superficial burn has just affected the top layer of skin, it is really painful and likely to blister.

A partial thickness burn is really painful. The burn has gone through both the first and second layer of skin

Full thickness burns are often not as painful as the nerves have been very severely damaged too. This is the most severe sort of burn, the skin may appear pale, white or charred it will require extensive treatment and skin grafts.

Treating a burn promptly under cool running water for at least 10 minutes makes a huge difference to the severity of a burn and therefore the amount of pain, scaring, length of time in hospital…that your child may experience.

  • Never touch the burn, pop blisters, or put on any creams whatsoever. Take burns very seriously and always seek medical advice.

WEAR STERILE GLOVES WHEN DEALING WITH BURNS

 If it is a child that is burnt, phone for an ambulance and keep cooling their burn under cool running water.

 Dressing a burn

 A burn should never be dressed until it has been cooled for at least 15 minutes. Covering a burn reduces the risk of infection and reduce pain by covering exposed nerve endings.

If a child is burnt and the burn is bad enough that you need to dress it – phone an ambulance, whilst continuing to cool it under running water and the paramedics will dress it for you.

If you want to dress the burn, cling film is a good temporary dressing. Ensure you have cooled the burn for at least 15 minutes before dressing it. Discard the first couple of turns of cling film and place an inner piece loosely over the burn. Plastic bags and non fluffy dressings also make useful dressings. Proper burns dressings are great, but ideally the burn should be cooled for at least 10 minutes before dressing.

Always get a Medical Professional to assess a burn

Never:

  • Remove anything that has stuck to a burn
  • Touch a burn
  • Burst blisters
  • Apply any creams, lotions or fats
  • Apply tight dressings, tapes or use anything fluffy

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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