It is estimated that thousands of children every year are admitted to the hospital for burns. Half of these burn cases affect infants and children below 4 years old. The second-degree burns affect the two upper skin layers which cause swelling, pain, redness and blisters. This type of burn also provides the skin with a weepy or moist appearance. Even though some cases of second degree burns among infants can be managed at home, the child should be carefully assessed by a doctor for treatment in order to prevent infection.
- Transfer the infant away from the heat source and call for emergency assistance as soon as possible. Remember that second-degree burns on an infant are considered life-threatening especially if a large region of the body is covered or affects the breathing. Providing appropriate first aid measures while waiting for the medical team to arrive can minimize the severity of the burn as well as prevent potential scarring and deformity.
- Remove any hot or burned clothing that adheres on the skin of the child. In case the clothing could not be pulled away from the skin, you have to leave it in place.
- Submerged the burn in cool water or wrap it with a cool, damp cloth. Leave the compress in place for about 15 minutes. Remember not to pour very cold water on the burn or apply ice directly on the burn. In case the burn was caused by a chemical, wash the skin using water and soap.
- Wrap the burn using sterile, dry gauze or cloth. The perimeters should be taped so that it stays in the area. Just be careful not to tape the cloth or gauze directly on the burned skin.
- Carefully assess the burned area if possible. Among infants, this might be a difficult task to perform unless only the legs or arms are involved. In case there are indications of shock such as lethargy, weak pulse and rapid heartbeat, the child should lie flat and elevate the feet. Wrap the child with a blanket or cloth to keep him/her warm until medical care is sought.
- Do not apply any powders, ointments or greasy products on the burn unless instructed by a healthcare professional. It is vital not to touch or breathe on burns since this can introduce bacteria that can lead to an infection.
- Always keep your hands away from the burn site and avoid popping any blisters. Take note that blisters basically protect the skin and must be left alone. In case they break on their own, consult a doctor for advice on applying an antibacterial ointment or other medication.
Vital point to bear in mind
Once the indications of an infection develop such as pain, redness, fever, odor or drainage, a doctor should be consulted right away.