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Minor Burns and Scalds

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Depending on how serious a burn is, it may be possible to treat it at home.

Managing your condition

For minor burns, keep the burn clean and don’t burst any blisters that form. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids following your injury.

How do I treat?

  • Immediately get the person away from the heat source to stop the burning
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery that’s near the burnt area of skin, including babies’ nappies – but do not move anything that’s stuck to the skin
  • Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20-30 minutes – do not use ice, iced water, or any creams or greasy substances such as butter Make sure the person keeps warm by using a blanket, for example, but take care not to rub it against the burnt area
  • After cooling the burn, cover the burn by placing a layer of cling film over it – a clean plastic bag could also be used for burns on your handKeep your wound covered with a non-stick dressing until it heals use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain
  • Raise the affected area if possible -this helps to reduce swelling
  • If your burn is over a joint, keep the injured parts moving several times a day. This is to prevent stiffness and tightening of the new skin
  • If it’s an acid or chemical burn, dial 999, carefully try to remove the chemical and any contaminated clothing, and rinse the affected area using as much clean water as possible

When should I seek advice?

More serious burns require professional medical attention. You should go to a hospital A&E department for:

  • all chemical and electrical burns
  • large or deep burns – any burn bigger than the injured person’s hand 
  • burns that cause white or charred skin – any size
  • burns on the face, neck, hands, feet, any joints or genitals 

If someone has breathed in smoke or fumes, they should also seek medical attention. Some symptoms may be delayed and can include:

  • coughing
  • a sore throat
  • difficulty breathing
  • facial burns

People at greater risk from the effects of burns, such as children under ten years old and pregnant women, should also get medical attention after a burn or scald.

For minor burns and scalds seek further medical attention if the following occurs;

  • The burn hasn’t healed or there are still blisters after 2 weeks
  • The wound becomes hot, red, or swollen, as this may indicate that the wound is infected

If you need advice about a burn or scald, you can:

Where can I get more information?

  • NHS Choices –
  • Your local community pharmacy
Last Updated: Monday 22nd May 2023 - 9:25:am

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