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Is Your Child Sick? TM


Burn

Is this your child's symptom?

  • Burns to the skin
  • A burn is a heat, chemical or electrical injury to the skin

If NOT, try one of these:


Causes of Burns

  • Hot Liquids. Hot liquids (such as coffee) are the most common cause of burns. They cause a scald.
  • Hot Surfaces. Examples are ovens, stoves, space heaters and curling irons.
  • Chemical Burns (Serious). Examples are acids or lye splashed on the skin. They continue to damage the skin until they are removed.
  • Electrical Burns (Serious). They can be much deeper than they first appear.
  • Flame Burns (Serious). Flammable liquid burns are mainly seen in teen boys.
  • Friction Burns. Treadmill burns are a common example.
  • Sunburn is not covered here. See the Sunburn care guide.

Degrees of Burns

  • 1st degree. Red skin without blisters. These burns don't need to be seen.
  • 2nd degree. Red skin with blisters. Heals from the bottom up, not from the edges. Takes 2 to 3 weeks. Small closed blisters decrease pain and act as a natural bandage.
  • 3rd degree. Deep burns with white or charred skin. There are no blisters. Skin feeling is lost. Heals in from the edges. Grafts are often needed if it is larger than a quarter in size. These are burns over 1 inch or 2.5 cm. Skin grafts help limit scarring.

When to Call for Burn

Call 911 Now

  • 2nd or 3rd degree burn covers a large area
  • Trouble breathing with burn to the face
  • Trouble breathing after being near fire and smoke
  • Hard to wake up
  • Acts or talks confused
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Eye or eyelid burn
  • Burn goes all the way around an arm or leg
  • Center of the burn is white or charred
  • Electrical burn
  • Explosion or gun powder caused the burn
  • Chemical burn (such as acid)
  • Coughing after being near fire and smoke
  • House fire burn
  • Severe pain and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • Burn looks infected
  • You think your child has a serious burn
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Blister is present (Exception: Small closed blister less than ½ inch or 12 mm size)
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Minor burn and last tetanus shot over 10 years ago
  • Burn not healed after 10 days
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Minor heat or chemical burn
  • Blisters less than ½ inch (12 mm) size

Call 911 Now

  • 2nd or 3rd degree burn covers a large area
  • Trouble breathing with burn to the face
  • Trouble breathing after being near fire and smoke
  • Hard to wake up
  • Acts or talks confused
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Eye or eyelid burn
  • Burn goes all the way around an arm or leg
  • Center of the burn is white or charred
  • Electrical burn
  • Explosion or gun powder caused the burn
  • Chemical burn (such as acid)
  • Coughing after being near fire and smoke
  • House fire burn
  • Severe pain and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • Burn looks infected
  • You think your child has a serious burn
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Blister is present (Exception: Small closed blister less than ½ inch or 12 mm size)
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Minor burn and last tetanus shot over 10 years ago
  • Burn not healed after 10 days
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Minor heat or chemical burn
  • Blisters less than ½ inch (12 mm) size

Care Advice for 1st Degree Burns or Small Blisters

  1. What You Should Know About Burns :
    • Minor burns can be treated at home.
    • This includes some small blisters.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Cold Pack for Pain:
    • For pain, put a cold wet washcloth on the burn.
    • Repeat as needed.
  3. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
    • Use as needed.
  4. Clean the Burn:
    • Wash the burn gently with warm water.
    • Do not use soap unless the burn is dirty. Reason: Soaps can slow healing.
  5. Closed Blisters - Don't Open:
    • Don't open any small closed blisters.
    • The outer skin protects the burn from infection.
  6. Antibiotic Ointment for Open Blisters:
    • For any broken blisters, use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed.
    • Then cover it with a bandage (such as Band-Aid). Change the dressing every other day.
    • Each time, clean the area. Use warm water and 1 or 2 gentle wipes with a wet washcloth.
  7. What to Expect:
    • Most often, burns hurt for about 2 days.
    • It will peel like a sunburn in about a week.
    • First- and second-degree burns don't leave scars.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe pain lasts over 2 hours after taking pain medicine
    • Burn starts to look infected (spreading redness, pus)
    • Burn not healed after 10 days
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Copyright 1994-2017 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC. All rights reserved.

Burn - First Degree

The photo shows a 6 inch (15 cm) wide area of mild redness without blistering on the forearm. This thermal burn was caused by spilled hot water

First Aid Care Advice:

  • Immediately put the burned part in cold tap water or pour cold water over it for 10 minutes or cover with a cold wet washcloth.
  • Reason: This lessens the depth of the burn and relieves pain.
First Aid - Burn - Thermal
  • Immediately put the burned part in cold tap water or pour cool water over it for 10 minutes (Reason: lessen the depth of the burn and relieve the pain) .
  • For burns on the face, apply a cold wet washcloth.
  • Do this immediately (don't take time to remove clothing).

Note: A thermal burn is any burn caused by heat.

First Aid - Burn - Chemical
  • Remove any contaminated clothing.
  • Brush any dry chemical off the skin.
  • Flush the chemical off the skin with warm water for 10 minutes.
  • For large areas, use the shower.

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