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Burns and scalds

Knowing what to do

A burn is damage to the skin, which is caused by direct contact with something hot. Burns can also be caused by certain chemicals, electricity and friction. A scald is a burn that is caused by a hot liquid or steam. Scalds are treated in the same way as burns.

Treat any burn or scald straight after the accident but always take your child to hospital for anything more than a very small burn or scald. A child’s skin is very delicate and can be scarred without the right treatment.

Cool the burnt area by placing under cool running water for five minutes. When
the burn has cooled, cover it with a sterile dressing, food quality cling film or a
plastic bag. Don’t wrap it too tightly. Then take your child to hospital.

Remember to keep hot drinks out of children’s reach.

What to do

Hold the affected area under cold, running water for five minutes. Cover the scald or burn with a clean, non-fluffy cloth that has been soaked in cold water.


Apply fatty substances like butter or ointment as this won't do any good and will only waste time for hospital staff who'll have to clean the area before it is treated.


Treat the burn or scald straight after the accident.


Do not use creams, lotions or ointments on the burn or scald.


Always take your child or baby to hospital (except for very small burns or scalds). Cover the injury with cling film.

If you are still worried, contact your surgery or NHS Direct. If you cannot get help straight away go to a Walk-in or Urgent Care Centre or to the Accident and Emergency Department.