2 minutes to read
Damage to the skin caused by heat can be classified as - burns due to dry heat, or scalds due to exposure to something wet such as hot water or steam. Minor burns can often happen around the home. From accidents in the kitchen to scalding water in the bathroom, there can be many causes. Minor burns can be treated at home with basic first aid, but for more severe burns you should visit a healthcare practitioner.
How to tell if a burn can be treated at home or if it’s more serious
A first degree burn, while still painful, can normally be treated as a minor burn. Minor first degree burns directly damage only the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. They generally have a low risk of infection and scarring.
Minor first degree burns that do not require emergency care may involve, superficial redness similar to sunburn, pain, blisters and an area no larger than 3 inches or 7cm aorund.
These are signs you should seek immediate medical help for a burn:
- Any chemical and electrical burns
- Deep burns
- The skin in or around the burn is white or charred
- Blistered burns on the hands, arms, feet, legs, face or genitals
- If someone has inhaled lots of smoke and is showing symptoms such as facial burns, singed nasal hair, coughing or difficulty breathing
- Small children and pregnant women
- Any burn bigger than the size of your hand
Did you know the most effective way to cool down a minor burn is with running the burn under cool water rather than ice?
How to treat a minor burn
1) Cool: Firstly, remove any tight clothing or jewellery near the burn and cool the burned area by running it under cool water for 20 minutes. Don’t break any small blisters that may form.
2) Treat: Apply a cream, gel or foam that cools and hydrates. When your skin burns, it loses its ability to maintain moisture very well, making it more difficult for your skin to heal itself and extra important to keep the area moisturised. Cover the burned area with plastic wrap or gauze to protect the tender skin.
3) Support: Keep the area clean and hydrated as it heals. Pain can be treated with a pain medicine like paracetamol or ibuprofen from your pharmacy. Pain should subside within 2-3 days.
How to prevent minor burns
- Keep your children out of the kitchen whenever possible
- Test the temperature of bath water using your elbow before you put your baby or toddler in the bath
- Keep matches, lighters and lit candles out of young children's sight and reach
- Keep hot drinks well away from young children
- Put your iron, hair straightener or curling tongs out of reach while they cool down after you've finished using them
- Fit fireguards to all fires and heaters