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How To Treat A Burn: First Aid Treatment For Burns


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Burns and scalds are a leading cause of injury to young children, with toddlers most at risk because of their increased mobility and natural curiosity. All burns can be serious. Even small burns, depending on where they occur, can have long-term consequences for your child.

For this reason, first aid intervention is necessary.

Burns In Children

Children have naturally fragile skin, which brings more impact to their skin after exposure to unsafe lower temperatures.

The most common burn injury for children ages zero to five is scalds caused by hot liquid or steam. Scalds often result from accidentally pulling down hot drinks off tables, reaching up burning saucepans, and playing with taps in the bath.

According to data published in 2018-19 by the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ), about 906 children under 15 years old suffer from burn injuries. Most of these incidents lead to hospitalisations due to the lack of initial first aid treatment. This data underlines the importance of learning burns first aid.

Most burn injuries are preventable by taking precautions and knowing first aid.

Three Classification Of Burns

The classification of burns depends on the amount of damage done to the skin and other tissues.

  • First-degree Burns are characterised by skin redness and do not require medical attention. A mild sunburn is an example of this injury which usually heals quickly.
  • Second-degree Burns are more severe than the first and usually require medical treatment. Signs may include blistered and peeling of the skin and redness of tissues.
  • Third-degree Burns are severe injuries that completely damage the skin. There burn site appears dry and charred and has white or yellow discolouration on the skin.

First Aid For Burns

If a child suffers from second or third-degree burns, call triple zero 000 right away. While waiting for emergency help to arrive, perform these first aid treatments.

1. Expose The Affected Area

Remove any clothing or jewellery around the burn area. However, if there are foreign materials that adhere to the skin, do not tug or pull to avoid further damage.

2. Stop The Burning Process.

Stopping the burning process is a crucial step in preventing tissue destruction. Start cooling the burnt area under cool water for about 20 minutes. Never immerse the injury in cold water or ice as it only suffers more damage from the action.

3. Cover The Site With Cling Film

Apply cling film to the burn site to help reduce pain and prevent moisture loss through evaporation. Never fall into the common misconception of putting butter or toothpaste to the burn.

4. Treat The Pain

The pain from second and degree burns can be severe. If the pain becomes unbearable, take paracetamol or ibuprofen for relief while waiting for medical help. Always ensure that the dosage is correct before taking medications.

5. Keep Warm

Burns in children that involve a large area of the skin have a risk of getting hypothermia or low body temperature. To avoid further loss of body heat, use blankets and layers of clothing without touching the injury.

First-degree burns (superficial burns) can be treated at home with mild antiseptic cream and rest. Seek medical help if the injury is large and the child is in significant pain.

Check if the skin looks splotchy, wet, or waxy and if the injury is in the face, hands, or feet. In these circumstances, the child may have a severe burn that requires prompt medical attention.

Preventing Burns

Think prevention when dealing with possible factors that cause burns, including:

  • Avoid using candles, space heaters, and curling irons around small children
  • Keep hot drinks and other liquids out of young children’s reach
  • Check the water temperature before putting a child in the tub
  • Do a regular check of smoke alarm batteries at least once a month
  • Keep fire exchangers out of their reach
  • Never let them play in the kitchen while


Immediate intervention and first aid measures help reduce the incidence of the skin area and complications caused by the burn.

Parents and carers must remain vigilant and take necessary actions to lessen the risk of burns to children. Along with active supervision and following prevention tips, learning first aid is important to be aware of the correct first aid steps to take in a burn emergency.

The First Aid Course Canberra (First Aid Pro) is a registered training organisation (RTO) providing nationally recognised courses across Australia, including many locations in Canberra.

Our courses are dedicated to preventing unintentional death and serious injury in children and adults through effective first aid intervention.

Learn more about different types of burns and how to effectively treat them in a first aid course.

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