How do I treat burns and scalds? | Babies |

How do I treat burns and scalds?

Burns and scalding are among the most common childhood accidents. In Germany alone, there are around 6,000 children every year who need hospital treatment in the hospital. Injuries of this kind are among the most painful of all. Temperatures as low as 52 degrees Celsius damage the skin. The causes are hot liquids, flames, contact with hot objects, fires, electricity or acids. The extent of the damage is differentiated in three stages, with the symptoms developing slowly, so that the actual severity is often only recognizable later:

  • 1st degree: Skin redness, swelling of the skin, pulling pain, will heal without scarring
  • 2nd degree: Skin redness, severe swelling of the skin, blistering, superficial destruction of the skin, severe pain, will leave scars
  • 3rd degree: deep skin and subcutaneous burns, tissue death, no pain as the nerve endings are damaged, lasting damage
  • 4th degree: burns to the muscle and partly to the bones, no pain, the tissue is damaged incurably

In young children, there is already danger to life if 8 percent of the body surface burned. In adults, it is 15 percent. The extent of the burned body surface is determined by the so-called rule of nine. For children, the following values ​​apply:
  • Head and neck: 16%
  • Arms (2 x 9%): 18%
  • Hull (2 x 16%): 32%
  • Legs (2 x 17%): 34%

It can be seen that even "only" a burned arm is life-threatening for a child. Burn injuries can very quickly result in shock and hypothermia. So do not leave your child alone if it has burned, soothe it and keep it warm until the ambulance arrives.

The order of your actions must be: clear, cool the wound, call ambulance (phone number 112 or even 110).

emergency measure

Is it a scalding, take your clothes off immediately. Do not be afraid to reach for a pair of scissors, the faster the hot clothes get from the skin, the better.

Burn the textiles, extinguish the fire, for example with water, a thick blanket or rolling on the floor. If you use a fire extinguisher, it must not be held in the direction of your face (respiratory system!).

Let in burns the clothes on the body, because there is a risk that you would also remove skin when removing.


The most important first aid measure is cooling with water. For small burns keep the affected area under running water until the pain subsides. This can take up to 20 minutes. The water should be cool (around 15 degrees), but not cold.

Do not take ice cream. This initially relieves the pain, but shortly thereafter, they increase even more because the affected body parts are supplied with more blood. It can also lead to frostbite. Ice spray should also be taboo. Also keep your fingers away from supposed home remedies such as flour, ointments, powders, disinfectants or oils. If these substances come into contact with the wound, they cause even more damage.

Large-scale burns are cooled with lukewarm water for about three to five minutes (by 25 to 30 degrees). If the water is too cold and the duration of cooling is too long, hypothermia may occur.

Next, cover the burned area with a sterile, non-linting cloth. Ideal is a fire cloth, which is placed on the wound with the Metalline coated side and loosely fixed with a gauze bandage or a triangular cloth. The advantage is that the Metalline does not stick to the wound, keeps the cloth warm and protects it from dirt. For minor burns or scalds without blistering, leave the skin to heal in the air and do not cover it with a bandage.

Never open fire blisters. There is a risk of infection.

If your child has burn injuries on the face, it could be that it has inhaled smoke. In this case, there is a risk of respiratory distress due to swelling mucous membranes. Keep the child upright to ease his breathing, and keep controlling his breathing over and over. Burns on the face are not covered.

Infants and toddlers should always be introduced after hospital burns and scalds.


  • Always store lighter and matches in a child-safe place.
  • Slide cups and pots of hot food into the center of the table so the child does not reach out. The reach of children's arms is usually greater than you think.
  • Make sure that the power cord of the iron, kettle and immersion heater are out of reach of children.
  • If you get hot on the table, you should do without hanging tablecloths.
  • When cooking, turn the handles of pots and pans backwards.
  • If possible, secure the stove with a grid.
  • When you leave home, turn off electronic devices such as TVs, computers, etc. completely and do not leave them in stand-by mode.
  • Never run hot water into the bath first. If possible, use mixer taps. Check the water temperature before the child gets into the bath.
  • If you use the microwave to heat food and drinks, be sure to stir the food and liquids well, so that the heat is distributed evenly. Otherwise there is a risk that some places are lukewarm and others boiling hot.
  • Check the temperature of milk bottles and porridge even before feeding.
  • Do not eat or drink anything hot as long as you have a baby sitting on your lap.
  • Never leave children near open fires and candles unattended.
  • Take the time to regularly renew and expand your first aid knowledge. The DRC offers special courses for first aid to children.

Help, information and links on the topic - especially for those affected - are available from Paulinchen - Initiative for burnt children e.V., Segeberger Chaussee 35; 22850 Norderstedt, free hotline 0800 0 112 123, E-Mail: [email protected], Internet address:

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