Burns in Children

Burn is a common injury that can be prevented. It affects more than 1 million Americans, causing the hospitalization of about 40,000 children very year and more than 1000 fatalities. Burn injuries are most common in younger children, with about 50% of burn injuries reported in the United States are in young children not older than 4 years of age.

While children are injured as a result of contact with household appliances, hot liquids, and overexposure to sun, they are most often injured by scalding burns. These injuries can occur as they accidentally knock over a cup of very hot coffee or grab the handle and spill a pot of boiling water. It is saddening, however, that burns are also a major cause of child abuse or intentional injuries. This article provides information on how to treat and prevent burn injuries in children.


Treating burn largely depends on the severity of the injury. First degree burns are limited to the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. This burn causes the skin to be painful, red, and dry, without blistering. An example of a first degree burn is moderate or mild sunburn. A second degree burn is more critical, more painful, and involves skin blistering. But unlike first degree burns, the affected skin appears to be moist.

In the third degree burn, the injury penetrates the hypodermis, dermis and epidermis. The affected area turns white, firm, leathery, and charred. It also damages nerve endings, so the child may not feel any pain in the affected area. The fourth degree burn is so severe that the injury reaches the muscle or bone. Fortunately, these cases are rare.


If your child has a minor burn, soak the affected area in cold water for around 15 minutes. You can place it under running water or cover the burned body part with a wet and cold towel. Do not put butter, ice, or any ointments. And if blisters develop, do not break it. Cut a suitable sterile dressing and place it over the affected area. Call a doctor for instructions. Consult with a burn specialist if the burn becomes infected and if a purulent discharge develops. See your doctor if it does not improve within two weeks

More severe burn injuries should be seen by health professionals. For more serious injuries, you should alarm your local medical emergency service. Serious burns usually require hospitalization of the child, and sometimes require skin grafting and surgery.


As mentioned, burn is a preventable injury. Here are some steps to follow to keep your child safe from burn injuries. Be with your toddler at all times. Do not leave him or her alone in the kitchen or bathroom. Use back burners when cooking and turn pot handles inward. It is also a necessity to install smoke detectors. Electrical outlets should be covered. Never carry hot food or liquids near your toddler and do not allow him or her near hot oven doors, stoves, heaters, hot barbecue grills, curling irons, and other hot appliances. Keep lighters, matches, and other flammable materials out of your child’s reach.



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