Dry Burns Versus Scalds: Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment

Wet burns or scalds are caused by contact with a wet liquid such as steam, boiling water, and hot oil. Statistics show that children under five years old and senior citizens over sixty-five years old are at the most risk of being burned by a liquid. And, more than 500,000 scalds are reported annually in the United States of America.

Thus, the questions that deserve a considered answer include: 

How do you treat burns caused by scalding liquids? And more importantly, what should you do to prevent yourself or a family member from being burnt by a hot liquid?

By way of answering these questions, let’s first consider different preventative measures before we look at some of the more common treatment regimens. 

Preventing scalds from occurring

The best way to prevent yourself or a family member, especially a baby or toddler from being burned, is to make sure that they are not in the area like the kitchen when you are working with hot liquids. 

And, make absolutely sure that before you put your child in the bath, the water is tepid and not boiling. 

The best way of preventing scald wounds from occurring is to be mindful and to be careful when working with hot liquids around children or other people of any age. Accidents happen. However, as the age-old adage says: “Prevention is better than cure.”

Treating scalds

One of the most common injury-types for children under the age of five years is a scald associated with hot liquid spills in the kitchen. Bath time burns are the second-most common type of scald injury due to abuse or lack of supervision.  

Consequently, depending on the severity of the wound and the age of the person who sustained the injury, emergency care should be sought. However, it is possible to treat most scald wounds at home by applying the following first aid tips: 

Remove the heat source 

It is vital to remove the source of heat that has caused the burn. This is critical to prevent further injury. Let’s assume for this discussion that you are walking across the kitchen with a hot kettle of boiling water. You trip over your toddler who is in the kitchen with you, and hot water spills out of the kettle onto your child. It is vital to stop the water from continuing to spill out of the kettle onto your child, and to instead place it on a countertop before attending to your child.

Cool the wound site down 

Even though the heat source has been removed, the hot liquids on the skin will keep on burning until they cool down naturally. Thus, it is vital to run cool water over the wound for at least 20 minutes. Do not use iced water, ice, or any greasy substance like butter, to try and speed up the cooling down process. Otherwise, the burn injury can get worse. 

At the same time, it is vital to ensure that your child’s body temperature does not drop. If the scalded area is too big to treat at home, seek emergency health care. 

Prevent infections

Depending on the severity of the burn, it can take a couple of weeks for the wound to heal. It is essential to keep it clean during this time. Also, keep an eye on it to make sure that it does not become infected. Finally, seek medical attention if you are unhappy with the healing process, or if the wound becomes infected. 

Elements used to create Featured image Artwork provided by Created by Jill.

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