Have you ever experienced drinking a hot cup of coffee and accidentally spilling it? You might have experienced scalding water burn. Many burns are often caused by dry heat, chemical, and electrical burns. But a burn caused by steam or hot water — is called a scald. Here’s what you need to know about scalding and how to treat burn victim with first aid.
What is a Scald?
Scalds are slow-healing burns caused by moist heat. This burn can be risky because it destroys affected tissues and cells in the body. In more severe cases, burn victims can go into shock, which can be life-threatening.
Boiling water burns can be accidental, and they’re often caused by minor accidents when you are in a hurry or under pressure, such as spilling a hot drink on your skin. Steam from the oven can also cause scalding. Tap water burns are more likely if your hot water heater is set above 120°F.
Scald burns are widespread in the restaurant industry. This is because the water temperature in a restaurant kitchen must be kept high to prevent bacterial overgrowth and properly clean cookware.
What’s the Difference Between Burns and Scalds?
Burns and scalds are both forms of thermal injury. Treatment for both is generally similar, but scalds are typically confined to the outer layers of skin, while burns can cause extensive damage to deep tissue.
Human skin can withstand up to 44°C temperatures for a prolonged period of time, up to 6 hours, before suffering irreversible damage. With immersion scalds, the contact between the hot liquid and the skin is considerably longer than with spill scalds, thus increasing the severity of the injury.
First-degree burn or superficial burn is associated with scalds. It usually causes immediate pain. But if the hot water stays on the skin or covers a large body area, it can cause lasting damage. Severe burns can be and may even lead to death.
Learn About The 3 Different Types Of Burns And Their Treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Scalding or Hot Water Burn?
Scald burns can be excruciating, but the amount of pain is not always related to how serious the burn is. Even a severe burn may be relatively painless. Hot water burn may cause the following symptoms:
- Red or peeling skin
- White or charred skin
When to seek medical attention?
If you or someone else has suffered a scalding hot water burn, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If the burn covers more than 10% of the body, or if it is on the face, hands, feet, groin, buttocks, or a major joint, seek medical attention immediately, especially if the burn is deep, accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or chills, or if the person has a weakened immune system.
First Aid Treatment for Scalding Hot Water Burn
While many hot water burn cases can be treated at home, severe cases or major burns can be life-threatening. To treat a minor burn, follow the first aid for burns below:
1. Get the burn victim away from the heat source to stop the burning.
2. Remove any clothing or accessories near the burnt skin, but do not move anything stuck to the skin. If something is attached to the skin, do not remove it and seek emergency medical care.
3. Cool the burnt area with cool water or lukewarm running water for 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Avoid ice, iced water, creams, or greasy substances like butter.
5. Make sure the burn victim keeps warm by using a blanket, but don't rub it against the burnt area.
6. After cooling the burn, cover the burn by placing a layer of cling film over it. You may also use a clean plastic bag for burns on your hand.
7. If no blister is formed, you may use aloe vera moisturizers.
8. Use painkiller medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain
9. Raise the affected area if possible to reduce swelling
Takes less than 20 minutes. learn more
How to Prevent Scalding?
1. Keep young children out of the kitchen whenever possible.
2. Face pot handles inward when cooking. This can prevent a person from walking past and accidentally knocking into the pot.
3. Use caution when using a microwave, following instructions and warnings for all items - including steam from popcorn, which can cause steam burns. Seek medical attention immediately if this happens.
4. Test the temperature of bath water using your elbow before you put your baby or toddler in the bath
5. Keep matches, lighters, and lit candles out of young children's sight and reach
6. Avoid holding a child while you're cooking or making hot food or drinks.
7. Equip faucets with anti-scald devices such as a thermostatic mixer valve.
8. If you move into a new home, check the water heater temperature