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A burn is an injury to the skin or other organic tissue primarily caused by heat or due to radiation, radioactivity, electricity, friction or contact with chemicals.
A scald is a burn or other injury caused by hot liquid or steam.
Thermal (heat) burns occur when some or all of the cells in the skin or other tissues are destroyed by:
- hot liquids (scalds)
- hot solids (contact burns),
- flames (flame burns).
Chemical burns from corrosive chemicals
- Remove the chemical that caused the burn
- Rinse the skin under running water for 10 to 20 minutes
- If the chemical came into contact with the eyes, rinse the eyes continuously for at least 20 minutes before seeking emergency care.
Direct burns from flames
- Stop the burning process by removing clothing and irrigating the burns.
- Extinguish flames by allowing the patient to roll on the ground, or by applying a blanket, or by using water or other fire-extinguishing liquids.
- Use cool running water to reduce the temperature of the burn.
- Wrap the patient in a clean cloth or sheet and transport to the nearest appropriate facility for medical care
Burns from contact with hot objects
- stop contact with the hot object.
- Cool the injured area with water (not ice) within 30 seconds. This may limit the extent and severity of the burn.
- Run the burned body part, immediately under cool tap water for several minutes.
Scalds from hot liquids
- immediately get the person away from the heat source to stop the burning
- cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes – don’t use ice, iced water, or any creams or greasy substances such as butter
- remove any clothing or jewellery that’s near the burnt area of skin, including babies’ nappies – but don’t move anything that’s stuck to the skin
- make sure the person keeps warm – for example, by using a blanket, but take care not to rub it against the burnt area
- cover the burn by placing a layer of cling film over it – a clean plastic bag could also be used for burns on the hand
- use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain
- if the face or eyes are burnt, sit up as much as possible, rather than lying down to help reduce swelling