Understanding Scalds: Treating Burns

A scald occurs when the skin comes into contact with hot liquids or steam. Boiling water is a common culprit. Knowing how to respond promptly and effectively can make a significant difference in minimizing pain and promoting healing.

Act Quickly

Time is of the essence in treating a scald. Acting promptly can help reduce the severity of the burn.

1. Remove from Source

Distance from Danger

Carefully move the victim away from the source of the hot water to prevent further exposure.

2. Cool the Burn

Gentle Water Flow

Hold the affected area under cool (not cold) running water for at least 10-20 minutes. This helps dissipate heat and reduce the depth of the burn.

3. Remove Constricting Items

Loosen or Remove

If clothing or jewelry is near or covering the scalded area, gently loosen or remove them to prevent constriction as the area swells.

4. Assess the Burn

Determining Severity

Evaluate the burn's depth and size. Scalds are categorized into three levels:

  • Superficial (First-Degree): Involves only the outer layer of skin, resulting in redness and mild pain.
  • Partial-Thickness (Second-Degree): Affects deeper layers, causing blisters, severe pain, and potential swelling.
  • Full-Thickness (Third-Degree): Penetrates all skin layers, potentially appearing white or charred.


Preserve Protective Layer

While it may be tempting to pop blisters, doing so can increase the risk of infection. Leave them intact.

6. Apply a Sterile Non-Stick Dressing

Protect and Prevent Infection

Cover the burn with a clean, non-stick dressing. Avoid using adhesive bandages directly on the burn.

7. Use Pain Relief

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Seek Medical Attention

When to Consult a Professional

  • Partial-Thickness and Full-Thickness Burns: These require professional medical care.
  • Large or Deep Burns: Burns that cover a significant area of the body or are deep should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
  • Facial or Genital Burns: Specialized care may be needed for burns in sensitive areas.

Prevention and Follow-Up

Safeguarding Against Scalds

Preventing scalds is crucial. Adjusting water heater temperatures, using caution with hot beverages, and keeping children away from cooking areas are important safety measures.

Swift Action, Soothing Relief

In the aftermath of a scald from boiling water, immediate and informed action is paramount. By swiftly cooling the affected area, assessing the burn's severity, and seeking professional care when needed, you play a vital role in the victim's recovery. Remember, prevention is the most effective way to protect against scalds. Implementing safety measures in the home can go a long way in reducing the risk of these painful accidents.

First Aid Certification

Back to blog