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First Aid for Scalding: How to Treat Hot Water Burn Injury

scalding hot water burn

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August 15, 2022

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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.

scalding hot water burn

What’s the Difference Between Burns and Scalds?

Burns and scalds are both damages to the skin caused by heat and are treated similarly. The only difference is that scalds may only damage the outer layers of skin, unlike burns, which can cause significant deep tissue damage.

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. If the burn is severe, it can be as fatal as a third-degree burn 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:

  • Blisters
  • Red or peeling skin
  • White or charred skin
  • Swelling

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

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scalding hot water burn

How to Prevent Scalding?

Many severe water burns can affect babies and young children. Here are the things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of burn injury in children at home:

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. For heating items in the microwave, follow instructions and cautions – even steam from a bag of popcorn can scald you.

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. While preparing hot foods or hot drinks, never hold a child in your arms

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 

 Next, Read- Teaching Basic Life Support Skills To Kids.  

Key Takeaways:

Scalds 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. In addition, burn injury needs to be treated by healthcare providers if there are partial thickness burns to avoid signs of infection.

  • Scald burns can be excruciating, but the amount of pain is not always related to how severe the burn is.
  • While many hot water burn cases can be treated at home, deep or major burns can be life-threatening, especially facial and more extensive burns.
  • Tap water burns more likely if your water heater temperature is above 120°F.
  • Minor scalding can be treated with first aid at home.
  • Third-degree burns require prompt attention and may necessitate hospitalization, antibiotics, and skin grafts.

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