Accidental Burns In Your Child - First Aid Guide
Created by Janaki Srinivasan Updated on Oct 12, 2020
From the time your child starts taking his/her first steps, you have to be extremely alert. They stumble, fall, have small accidents, drop things and get hurt—the list is endless. Among the exhaustive list of injuries one that you must be very careful of as a parent is injury from burns, cuts and bites. This could be caused by touching hot objects or scalding from hot liquids. Of course, as a parent we are always cautious of child-proofing our homes, but despite all that if your child does get burnt, you must know what is it that you must do immediately, when to call a doctor etc. Most parents think that burns and scalds are the same, though there is a difference between the two. Burn causes injury to the skin from a source that is hot. Scalds are burns caused from hot liquids and the most common cause for burns in children. Before understanding how to treat burns, let’s take a look at their types.
Types of Burns
Burns could vary in severity and are classified according to degrees. What are they?
First Degree Burns:
This affects just the outer layer of the skin and is the least harmful. The skin might become red and/or swollen and there is some pain.
Second Degree Burns:
There’s more pain and the injury involves both the first and the second layers of the skin. It becomes, bright red, swollen and there are blisters.
The worst of the lot, it involves all layers of the skin and tissues as well. There is a wound which almost looks charred and leathery. In this the nerves could also be damaged. Having understood the types, the next step is to know, what should be done immediately, because when it comes to treating burns, time is very precious; you cannot afford to waste a single minute and you must know exactly what to do. Children have very delicate skin; quick treatment leads to a speedy recovery.
Depending on what caused the injury, here’s what you need to do immediately:
- If any part of the child is on fire, wrap a blanket/coat/ bedspread immediately and roll the child on the ground to extinguish the flames
- If it’s a chemical substance that’s caused the injury, flush the area with cool (not cold) water for 5 minutes before removing the clothes. This will prevent any other part of the body from getting exposed to the chemicals
- If the injury is due to an electric source, disconnect it and separate your child from it by using a non-metallic object. Don’t use your hands; you are at a risk of getting shock too
Basic First Aid Tips:
- If the injury is minor, the first thing to do is to soak the burn in cool water for 5—15 minutes. Do not use ice
- Remove the clothing, if it isn’t stuck to the burn. Remove watches and jewelry, if any
- If the burn is large don’t cool it after 20 minutes because hypothermia can happen quickly in children
- If the burn is of a second degree, lay your little one flat and raise the burned part above the chest level before applying a washcloth over the burn
- Pat the skin dry gently and apply loose gauze or bandage or a clean washcloth over the burn until the pain subsides
- Do not apply ointments, butter, powder or anything else on the burn
- In case there are blisters, don’t try to break them
- You can give a painkiller in consultation with the doctor
When To Call A Doctor:
Once you are done with the basic first aid, it is better to call the doctor or take the child to a hospital, especially if the burn is of a second or third degree. Besides, for any of the following immediate medical assistance is a must.
- If your child is having trouble breathing or is not responding
- If the burn is oozing or looks infected
- The burn is on the face, hands, feet or the genitals
- The burn covers over 10 percent of the body
Other Minor Injuries - Cuts and Bites:
Besides burns, children are also prone to cuts and bites because they are out in the open for a long time. If the insect left a stinger, remember to remove the sting first with your nail without breaking it. Do not use tweezers. Once that is done, for the itching, use a cold compress or apply calamine lotion over it. If your child is coughing or is finding it difficult to breathe or develops hives, consult your doctor immediately.
For minor cuts, gently press the region if it’s bleeding until it stops. Clean the area with lukewarm water and gently pat it dry. Apply an antibiotic lotion and cover it with a bandage. If the bleeding does not stop, you must get immediate medical assistance.
With children at home, accidents cannot be avoided no matter how hard you try and that’s OK. As long as you are aware of basic first aid tips, you can control small cuts and bites easily. Only when things get a bit serious (which doesn’t happen usually), contact your doctor immediately. Even if the injury is mild and you are not sure of the first aid steps, don’t panic. Call your doctor and take control of the situation.
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| Oct 10, 2019
Thank you for this information on administering First Aid to children. I have used salt to manage burns and scalding accidents at home and it is God's quick fix to us as humans. I just pour some water over the area of the burns and apply salt on it immediately (it forms a cake over the wet area). In a couple of minutes, the pain subsides. I then wash off the salt and the healing commences. However, if the burn is on the face, I would advise against using salt. Consulting a doctor is always the best option particularly when it concerns children. Stay safe.