Burns and Scalds First Aid Treatment & Prevention

What to do if you get burns and scalds


A burn is an injury to the skin that occurs from touching something hot such as hot metals, fire or electric. Scalds are burns from hot liquids such as boiling water, steam, hot tea or soup. You need to be extra careful during first aid for burns and scalds.

Burns and scalds first aid treatment
Scalds on the hands

Burns and scalds are really painful. They are one of the most painful injuries a person can live through. The skin goes red and the heat goes right inside the skin. Sometimes the skin is so badly damaged that it never gets really better.



They may cause red or peeling skin, blisters, swelling and white or charred skin. But the amount of pain you feel isn’t always related to how serious the burn is. A serious burn may be relatively painless.

Burns and scalds first aid management

How long does it take for burn pain to go away?
An example of burns from dry heat

The first aid treatment for burns and scalds are the same. The following are tips to yourself or another person.



  • Remove the person from the source or cause of the burns if possible. Reassure them to be calm. This will enable them cope with the situation at hand. 
  • If the clothes, are on flame the first thing to do is to put out the fire. You can use a blanket, or a loose rug. Outdoors where there is nothing to smother the flames, roll the person slowly on the ground.
  • Do not use sand or dirt to cover him. This is to avoid infection of the wounds cause by either the burns or scalds.
  • If the burns is due to a chemical, the area should be flushed with copious quantities of clean cool water.
  • Put the affected area under cool running water for at least 10 minutes (ideally longer). Remember you are cooling the burn and not the casualty.
  • Cover the burned area with kitchen cling film or another clean, non-fluffy material, like a clean plastic bag.
  • Remove any clothing that does not adhere to the skin. But do not remove anything that is sticking. You should also remove rings, bracelets and wrist watches. This is to prevent swelling of the area.
  • Make sure the person keeps warm. You can use a blanket, for example, but take care not to rub it against the burnt area.
  • Use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain
  • Do not add oil, ointment or any other medication to the burns as it will be removed at the hospital adding to the trauma.
  • If the face has been burnt, rinse the eyes in large amounts of clean cool water.
  • Arrange for transport to the hospital.

Burn and Scald Prevention Tips

Preventing burns and scalds at home
  • Keep hot foods and drinks away from the edges of tables and counter tops.
  • Never carry a child while holding hot items.
  • Never let young children use the microwave to prepare hot foods or drinks.
  • Keep children away from the kitchen during food preparation.
  • Tuck cords of appliances out of reach of children.
  • Never leave irons, hair dryers, or curling irons on around children.
  • Set the water heater thermostat to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Consider installing anti-scald devices on water faucets to stop the flow of water if it gets too hot.
  • Lock up matches, lighters, gasoline and chemicals.
  • Cover electrical outlets when not in use.
  • Take your family to see a professional fireworks display instead of using consumer fireworks.


About felclinic 593 Articles
Felix Ntifo is a Registered General Nurse who has so much passion to improve health care delivery. He founded FelClinic with the hope of making health information accessible to everyone who may not come in contact with him personally. "At felclinic.com we are very passionate about health and well-being of everyone. Our team is made up of professional doctors, nurses, midwives and lab technicians."

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