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Dealing with burns and scalds

Minor burns and scalds are among the most common of all accidents in the home. Burns are as a result of dry heat (e.g. touching a hot iron) while scalds are as a result of wet heat (e.g. spilling boiling water on your hand). Both burns and scalds can damage the layer of skin that prevents the body from infection.

It's therefore important to act quickly to limit the amount of damage done to your skin.

First aid for burns and scalds

***If the burn is serious, call 999 right away***

1. Halt the burning if applicable. This may mean removing yourself or the patient from the area, or smothering flames with a cloth.

2. Remove any clothing or jewellery that is near the burn, but do not attempt to remove anything that is stuck on the burn as this could cause further damage.

3. Put the burn under cool running water for between 10 and 30 minutes. Never use ice or iced water on burns.

4. Ensure that you or the patient keeps warm with a blanket or layers of clothing. This is especially important if you are cooling a large burned area.

4. Cover the burn with cling-film placed lengthways over the area. Do not wrap it tightly around a limb.

5. The pain from a burn can usually be treated with paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the manufacturer's instructions before taking any medication.

Recovery for burns and scalds

If the burn did not require medical attention, it should heal without any further steps. Keep the wound clean and avoid applying creams or lotions.

Do not pop blisters on burns and scalds as this can lead to scarring and infection.

If your burn does require medical attention, your doctor or specialist will advise you on the best recovery process. You may be advised to get a tetanus injection if there's a chance that bacteria entered the wound.

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