Family Health Guide

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First Aid: Burns

See a doctor right away if the burn is severely blistered, is larger than the palm of your child's hand, or is on his face, hand, eye area or a joint, neck, genitals, or feet; also seek medical help if you notice signs of infection (persistent swelling, pain, pus, or fever).

Other minor burns caused by scalding water, touching a hot pan, or a light bulb should be treated in the following manner (act quickly to minimize the pain and prevent blistering and scarring, which can occur even with a smaller burn):

1. Gently remove your child's clothing (if necessary) and immediately hold the injured area under cool running water for at least 15 minutes, to help cool it down, or apply a clean, cold compress. Don't put ice directly onto the skin -- it'll only aggravate the condition.

2. Pat skin dry with a clean towel. After about 30 minutes, cover the burn very loosely with sterile, non-adhesive gauze and a bit of tape and change the dressing twice a day until the wound has healed.

3. If blisters form, don't pop them (they guard against infection). Also, don't apply any type of ointment, antibiotic salve, butter, aloe, Vitamin E oil, or moisturizing lotion unless a doctor advises you to do so.

4. Check with your pediatrician on how to relieve swelling or pain; she may suggest that you give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen, depending on her age. Minor burns should be healed in under a week.