What Are the Treatments for Hot Water Burns?

Written by maura wolf
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What Are the Treatments for Hot Water Burns?
Hot or boiling water can cause severe scald burns. (boiling water 2 image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com)

Burns are caused by potential hazards in every home, with scalds from steam, hot bath or sink water, tipped-over coffee cups and hot cooking fluids being the number one cause of household burns. Scald injuries are especially likely to occur in young children, adults over 65 years of age and disabled people. Dr. William Sears' guide for ascertaining the seriousness of burns to determine treatment, says, "Not all burns require immediate medical evaluation," but when dealing with young children, "a second-degree burn warrants an urgent page to your doctor."

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Treatment of First Degree Burns

Hot water can cause first-, second-, or third-degree burns, depending on how badly the skin is damaged. The type of burn and its cause will determine the treatment, but all burns should be treated quickly to reduce the temperature of the burnt area and prevent damage to skin and tissue. Home treatment is appropriate for first-degree burns. They affect only the top layer of skin, producing redness, pain and minor swelling, but no blisters. If you or your child has a mild water burn, remove clothing from the burnt area and take off anything tight such as jewellery, as scalds may cause swelling. Immediately submerge the burnt area in cool, not cold, water, pour water over the burn or gently hold a clean, cool compress on the burn for three to five minutes. Getting cool water onto the area is the best way to minimise burn damage. Continue exposure to cool water for at least 20 minutes. Do not use ice, as it may further damage injured skin. Protect the burn from pressure and friction, and do not apply butter, grease or powder burns, as these substances may increase the risk of infection.

Antimicrobial ointments are used to reduce risk of infection, and antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infection. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with inflammation and pain. Once the skin has cooled, apply moisturising lotion, aloe gel or aloe cream to the affected area a few times a day. Vitamins C and E, and zinc may also be given to help the burn to heal. According to the Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, "first-degree burns usually heal very quickly. The burnt skin may peel after a few days, but should not scar."

What Are the Treatments for Hot Water Burns?
Hot water from kettles is a common cause of children's burns. (cup and kettle 2 image by FocalPoint from Fotolia.com)

Treating Severe Burns

Second-degree burns are serious and involve skin beneath the top layer, causing blisters and pain. For second-degree burns, seek medical assistance, and then, unless advised not to, follow the instructions for first-degree burns. By providing immediate first aid before medical help arrives, you may reduce the burn's severity. Third-degree burns are the most serious type of burn, affecting all layers of the skin and underlying tissue, with the burn's surface appearing dry, waxy, leathery or charred. There may be little pain or the area may be numb due to nerve damage. If dealing with a severe burn, seek emergency medical help by calling 911. Do not immerse a severe burn in cool water or remove clothing that is stuck to the skin. Do not apply ointment or use butter, ice, medications, cream or any household remedy. Do not blow on the burn or touch the blisters.

Herbs and Homepathic Treatments

Minor burns can be treated with natural products or herbs, but check with your health care provider before starting any treatment. In addition to aloe vera, plants and herbs that may be applied topically include: calendula, applied topically as an ointment; gotu kola applied as a cream to help repair skin tissue; and propolis, a resin created by bees, used to treat skin wounds.

The University of Maryland Medical Center wrote that few studies have "examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies in the treatment of burns," and explained that professional homeopaths recommend certain remedies to treat burns: arnica montana, taken orally immediately after the burn; calendula, especially soothing for children, is applied to the skin; and urtica urens cream or gel is used for gentle treatment of burn damage.

What Are the Treatments for Hot Water Burns?
Aloe vera gel and other herbal remedies may be soothing for burns. (bottle of aloe gel image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com)

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