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Scalds and burns account for about six per cent of injuries in young children.
Spilt hot drinks cause most scalds, cups of tea and coffee are still hot enough to scald a child fifteen minutes after being made. Some burns can be treated with simple first aid, but other, more severe burns, will need medical attention.

Burns are classified as:
• First-degree burns ; these are red and painful,swell a little and turn white when you pressed. The skin over the burn may peel off after 1 or 2 days.
• Second-degree burns; have blisters and are painful; skin is very red and may swell a lot.
• Third-degree burns cause damage to all layers of the skin. The burned skin looks white or charred. These burns may cause little or no pain due to nerve damage.

Minor burns and scalds can be managed using first aid. Cool the burn immediately with cool (preferably running) water for at least twenty minutes. After cooling, remove clothing from the burnt area; do not try to pull off clothing that has stuck to the skin as this may cause more damage. A cold compress such as a tea towel soaked in cold water may be soothing .

Mild burns heal quicker if left to the fresh air. Consult a doctor if the burn is more severe or complications such as infection develop. If the skin is broken, the burned area should be covered with an antibacterial ointment, which can be obtained from your pharmacist, and covered with a bandage to prevent infection. Aspirin*, paracetamol, or ibuprofen can be used to ease pain and relieve inflammation. Pain killing sprays are available for unbroken skin and provide rapid but temporary relief.

If the burn is severe, medical attention may be required. Before going to hospital the burn can be loosely covered with cling film or a clean plastic bag. Burns that will always require immediate medical attention include electrical burns, full thickness burns, partial thickness burns on the face, hands, arms, feet, legs or genitals and any burn that is larger than the size of the hand of the person affected.

*(Children should not take aspirin due to the risk of contracting Reye's syndrome)

© Copyright MediCare 2009