Treating Burns and Scalds in Children

Medically Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on September 22, 2021

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.

You can treat mild first-degree burns -- those that look like sunburns -- at home. Second- or third-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) for children ages 6 months and older.
  • Follow the dosing instructions on the bottle.
  • Call a pediatrician first if your child has never taken this medication before.

Show Sources

SOURCES: "First Aid: Burns." "Treating and Preventing Burns."

Journal of the American Medical Association: "Burn Injuries."

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info