Burns in Children – Types, Causes and Treatments
After the first few months as a newborn, the baby transforms into a more active, independent being. This can be a relief and a delight for parents, but there are some negative sides to this growth too – an increased probability of accidents occurring.
No matter how well you look after the child, he is sure to be on the receiving end of some physical harm at some point or the other. Such accidents occur as a result of his innate curiosity, and the desire to explore the world around him with newfound energy. The end result may simply be the child falling down and bruising himself, or something more serious, like burns.
Burns and scalds occur as a result of contact between the skin of the child and a high-temperature substance. Burns are caused by dry heat, while scalds are caused due to hot, wet substances coming in contact with the skin. Your child is increasingly susceptible to burns, as his skin is still delicate and not as tough as adult skin. Therefore, something that is of the right temperature for you might end up causing serious burns if it comes in contact with your baby’s skin.
In this article, let us take a deeper look at burns, and how to react to them.
Common Causes of Burns in Kids
There are a few common causes of burns in the case of babies, some of which are given below.
- Scalds are more common in the case of children, as they can be caused due to tipped-over coffee cups, hot fluids, steam or even hot water burns in babies.
- Dry burns are possible if the baby gets too close to hot objects, like the fireplace or curling irons.
- Chemical burns are a possibility in the case of children too, as they can be caused due to the child swallowing chemicals like drain cleaner, watch batteries or spilling bleach onto the skin.
- Electrical burns can occur as a result of the child coming in contact with live objects, like plug sockets or wires.
- Overexposure to the sun can also cause burns in children.
Types of Burns
Burns can be differentiated into three types, depending on the degree and extent to which it has affected the contact area.
1. First Degree Burn
This is the mildest type of burn and the one that occurs most frequently in the case of children. The skin appears reddish and sometimes a bit swollen, as the nerves underneath the skin become irritated. Only the outer layer of the skin will be damaged, and the burn may have the appearance of a sunburn.
2. Second Degree Burn
The second-degree burn is more serious than a first-degree burn, as the layers underneath the epidermis have also been affected. Blisters and swelling are common, and the experience is a very painful one for children.
3. Third Degree Burn
The most serious type of burn, high temperatures will have resulted in the injury going extremely deep under the skin to affect many layers. It is classified as a medical emergency and requires the immediate attention of medical professionals. The skin appears to be charred and white, and the surrounding areas of the burn may hurt badly. However, the affected area itself might not hurt much- this is because the nerves underneath will have been damaged due to the high temperatures.
How to Treat Burns in Children
The most important step in treating burns in your child is to separate him from the source of the heat as quickly as possible. In case the burns are caused because parts of your child are on fire, wrap him in a blanket or smother him with your own body, and roll him on the ground to extinguish the flames. In case of a chemical burn, you need to ensure that the chemical is removed from the body entirely before removing any clothes- so run the affected area under cool water for at least ten minutes. Electrical burns require you to take the baby away from the source of the shock, using a non-metallic object. Never throw water at him, as it can only worsen the condition of the child.
The methods of baby burn treatment depend upon which degree the burn is:
1. Treating First Degree Burn
Remember to take off the clothes in the injured area, before flushing it with water (chemical burns are an exception). Coldwater has to be run over the affected area for at least five minutes until you think that the pain has subsided. Alternatively, you can apply a cool, wet cloth over the area. Ice, butter or any sort of powder should not be applied over the area. Check for any signs of infection occurring in the affected area.
2. Treating Second Degree Burns
In case the second-degree burn is a light one, you need to follow the same steps as above to reduce the effects of the injury. Take care not to break any blisters at the site as it may result in infections in the area. Pain relievers like acetaminophen can be given to the child, after consulting with the doctor. The doctor may also prescribe topical ointments to be applied over the affected area, like Silvadene. Exposure to the sun should also be limited until the burn is healed.
3. Treating Third Degree Burns
Large second-degree burns and third-degree burns have to be treated similarly and are classified as medical emergencies. If the clothes in the area are still smouldering, ensure that they do not stick to the skin when you try to remove the clothing. If it is possible, raise the affected areas of his body over his chest, and apply a cool, wet cloth on the area. After that, you can cover the affected area using sterile cloth after patting the area dry. You should refrain from applying ice, butter or toothpaste, as it can aggravate the extent of the injury. Rush to the doctor immediately, for attention from medical professionals.
Immediate Cautionary Steps at Home
Here are some of the steps to get relief from burns at home.
- Soak the affected area with cool water (never use ice).
- Remove any clothing around the affected area, if it has not gotten stuck to the skin.
- Cover the affected area using a sterile cloth, like gauze. Do not break any blisters that may have appeared.
- Give something to relieve the pain, but only if you are sure about the medicine and the dosage. Consult a doctor.
Home Remedies for Skin Burn in Kids
There are a few household items that you can use as an immediate remedy for the burns, and some of those have been listed below.
- Cold Water: This is a no-brainer- cold water has to be run over the affected area immediately before you do anything else to alleviate his pain.
- Aloe Vera: Applying aloe vera using a damp gauze pad can help stop the inflammation, and reduces swelling and pain in the area.
- Silverex Cream: This is used as a medicine to treat light burns on the skin, and prevent infections from occurring in the area. The cream is to be applied two times a day for the first few days.
- Tea Bags: They contain tannic acid, which does a great job of soothing the pain and taking the heat out of the burn. Place a set of cool, wet tea bags on the affected area for around half an hour for great results.
- Coconut Oil: Not only is coconut oil great in taking the heat out of paediatric burns, but it also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that can prevent an infection from popping up in the affected area.
- Milk: The fat and proteins present in milk soothes burns, and helps in healing the baby burn.
When to Seek Medical Help
You should take your child to the doctor if the burn is anything other than a minor first-degree one or if the size of the burn is larger than two inches in diameter, rush over to the emergency room. In case the burn affects areas like the hands, face or the genitals, or if the cause is an electrical one, it will be better to see the doctor immediately.
Burns are common among children when they grow up, as they are always knocking things over and unknowingly touching everything around them. However, in most cases, the result is something minor like baby burn blisters on the fingers or small burn marks on the body. There is a potential for higher degree burns to occur too- therefore, ensure that you follow the right steps and pay the doctor a visit if you feel that the burn is a serious one.
Also Read: Childproofing Checklist