Treat Burns and scalds

Minor burns and scalds, though painful, can usually be dealt with at home. If the burn is easy to access, e.g. on an arm or leg, then cool the burn down by running cold or lukewarm water across the affected area. You need to do this as soon as the injury happens, and you should run the water for about twenty minutes.

Keep the Person Warm

Burns and scalds can be a shock to the system, which results in the person’s temperature going down. If the injured person is complaining of feeling cold, then you should cover them with a blanket or something similar. When you place anything on the patient to keep them warm, you must avoid the area with the burn or scald. People over the age of sixty and children under the age of five may be suffering severe shock; in these instances it is always best to call for an ambulance.


Don’t use creams on the burn or scald. Once the affected area has been under cold water, cover the burn area with cling film. If the burn or scald is very painful then give them some paracetamol. You should check whether older people are already taking medication, and you should never give aspirin to children under the age of sixteen.


If the affected area starts to blister, then you should get the person to your local A&E department for treatment by a health professional. Don’t think that you are wasting their time, as blistering that results from burns and scalds can cause permanent scarring if not properly treated. If the burns or scalds are covered by clothing (unless the material is sticking to the person, in which case they should go to hospital) remove it from the burned area. When burning occurs on the face or near the eyes it is always best to keep the person in a sitting position, as this can help to reduce the swelling.

Seeking Medical Help

If the burn or scald is a large one, e.g., covers an area that is larger than the person’s hand, then you need to get them to your nearest accident and emergency department. If the skin around the burn looks white or charred, then you should also get them to A&E. Don’t try to treat chemical burns at home; make the person as comfortable as possible, and then call for an ambulance. Should the injured person’s breathing become shallow, or if you know they have a serious medical condition, then again you should call an ambulance. Finally, stay as calm as possible. Most burns are minor and can be treated at home, but if you think it is serious then seek medical help.