The one thing you need to do when your child’s skin is burned

Kinderling News & Features

As winter approaches, we lug out all the warming devices we have in our arsenal. Bulky woollen jumpers, huge doonas, electric blankets, and lots and lots of tea.

Sadly, this means the risk of burns goes way up for the whole family in these cooler months of the year. Compared to young children, us adults have thick, leathery skin that isn’t affected as severely by burns. So when their soft skin is burned, it can be much more traumatic.

Dr Leila Cuttle from the Centre for Children’s Health Research shared with Kinderling Conversation the most important action to take when your child is burnt.

The most common types of burns in young children come from those hot beverage spillages, from hot tea, coffee, or a boiling kettle and these most often result in a trip to hospital.

The one thing you need to do

For all types of burns, whether it be from a scalding hot beverage, touching something hot like a hair straighter or cooking pot, from a flame or steam, Leila’s top tip is to immediately run the burn under 20 minutes of cool running water. Then it’s necessary to seek medical help, no matter how small the burn, in order to reduce scarring.

“The medical professionals are the best people to advise on whether something further needs to be done or not,” said Leila.

Listen to Leila on Kinderling Conversation:

When to go to hospital

Seek emergency help and dial triple zero (000) if;

  • It is a deep burn (even if the child does not feel pain)
  • The burn is larger than a 20-cent piece/3cm, or has blisters
  • The burn is to the face, hands, feet, joints or genitals
  • The burn is to the throat or airway
  • You’re not sure how bad the injury is

While waiting for medical help, Leila said they will advise you to keep the burn under running water until they get there.

How to be prepared

In order to react calmly in these high-pressure situations, Leila said the best thing was to be prepared with information about burns first aid. This is why she created the Cool Runnings app in collaboration with iPug, as a way to easily share crucial first aid information with parents. There are videos, animations, quizzes and prizes, all to encourage learning of burn first aid and help parents understand and prevent common types of burns.

This segment is presented by the Queensland University of Technology Burns and Trauma Research Group.