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Burns and Scalds

It’s important to treat any burns or scalds as soon as possible as this will limit the amount of damage to your skin.

Minor Burns

  • Start cooling the burn immediately by holding the affected area under cold running water for at least 10 minutes
  • Remove any jewellery unless it is sticking to the burn, and cover the burn with strips of cling film to prevent infection.
  • Do not use ice, iced water, creams, or greasy substances (such as butter) to soothe the burn.
  • If a minor burn is larger than a postage stamp, it requires medical attention. All deep burns of any size require urgent hospital treatment.

Severe Burns

  • Start cooling the burn immediately under running water for 10 to 30 minutes.
  • Dial 999 for an ambulance.
  • Make the casualty as comfortable as possible, lie them down.
  • Continue to pour copious amounts of cold water over the burn for at least 10 minutes, or until the pain is relieved.
  • Whilst wearing disposable gloves, remove any jewellery, watch or clothing from the affected area, unless it is sticking to the skin.
  • Cover the burn with a clean, non-fluffy material to protect it from infection. A cloth, a clean plastic bag or kitchen cling film all make good dressing materials.
  • Treat for shock.

If clothing is on fire

  • Stop the casualty panicking or running. Any movement or breeze will fan the flames.
  • Drop the casualty to the ground.
  • If possible, wrap the casualty tightly in a coat, curtain, blanket (not the nylon or cellular type), rug or other heavy-duty fabric. The best fabric to use is wool.
  • Roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered.

Please note for all burns:

  • Do not use lotions, ointments or creams.
  • Do not use adhesive dressings.
  • Do not break blisters.

Other Useful Organisations

  • NHS 111 is the new telephone service which has replaced NHS Direct. You can call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help, whatever the time.
  • NHS.UK is a website providing health and medical advice, an online symptom checker and a facility for searching for services near you.

Please note – The content on this website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you are feeling unwell, make an appointment to see your GP or contact NHS 111. In an emergency, dial 999.

Last updated: December 6, 2018

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