Burns and Scalds in Children - What to do

Burns and scalds are the leading cause of injury to children, especially toddlers. This is why it’s so important to know what you can do to prevent burns and scalds, and how to manage burns and scalds.

The classifications and types of burns

Burns are classified by how deeply they injure or burn the skin:

– Superficial (damage to the top layer of skin only)
– Partial thickness (damage to the first and second layer of skin)
– Deep, full-thickness (damage to skin layers and underlying tissue).

There are 6 types of burns:

– Scalds: often caused by hot liquids, food or steam
– A burn from a flame
– Contact with a hot object
– Friction burns
– Chemical Burns
– Electrical Burns

The main causes of burn and scalds in young children

Burns and scalds in young children are commonly caused by their curiosity. It is common for toddlers to pull hot foods and/or drinks down from benches, causing scalds to the chest, face, and neck. Children also often tend to touch hot objects such as an oven or heater.

What you can do to prevent burns and scalds

– Keep hot food and drinks away from the edges of benches and tables.
– Supervise your child in the kitchen. It may be worth considering a toddler gate if possible.
– Ensure the kettle cord is out of reach.
– Install screens around fireplaces or heaters.
– Keep children away from treadmills while in use.
– Limit the temperature of hot water that reaches your bath and shower to 50°C. This can be done by a licensed plumber.

How to treat burns and scalds

– Remove clothing, jewellery, and/ or nappy.
– Hold the burn under cool running water for 20 mins.
– Keep the child as warm as possible and just target the burn with cool water.

Seek medical help if:

• The burn is deep
• 3cm burn or blisters
• Face, hands, or genitals are burnt

Call 000 immediately if your child has severe burn injury or pain.

You can learn all about burns and scalds in children, plus how to manage all other first aid emergencies involving a newborn up to an 8-year-old child with the Premium Online Baby & Child First Aid Course. As an experienced Emergency Nurse, I ask you to please get educated on this topic. I have seen too many times where a parent has arrived in Emergency Department and just didn’t know what to do.

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