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Treating Burns and Scalds in Children

Call 911 if:

  • The burned area is charred or white.
  • Electric shock or chemicals caused the burn.
  • The burn is on the face, hands, feet, genitals, or a joint.
  • The burn covers 10% or more of the body.

  • The burned area is charred or white.
  • Electric shock or chemicals caused the burn.
  • The burn is on the face, hands, feet, genitals, or a joint.
  • The burn covers 10% or more of the body.

 

You can treat mild 1st degree burns -- those that look like sunburns -- at home. Second- or 3rd degree burns need immediate medical attention.

Call Doctor If:

  • The burn is oozing or seems infected (red, swollen, tender).

1. Soak the Burn

  • Immediately put the burned area in cool -- not cold -- water or under a faucet.
  • Keep the injury in water for at least five to 15 minutes.
  • Do not use ice.

2. Remove Burned Clothing

  • If the clothing is stuck to the skin, do not peel it away. Leave it in place and cut away the clothing around it.

3. Cover the Burn

  • Use nonstick gauze or a clean cloth.
  • If the burn is mild, you may put on antibiotic ointment.
  • Don't put butter, grease, or anything else on the burn, and do not pop any blisters.

4. Reduce Pain

  • Use an infant or child-strength over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
  • Follow the dosing instructions on the bottle.
  • Call a pediatrician first if your child has never taken this medication before.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 24, 2013

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