minor burns

Treating Minor Burns

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Small burns and scalds can often be treated effectively at home and will heal well. First Aid Classes will give you knowledge of the treatment required. If the burns are superficial and cover less than 5% of the body surface (1% = area of patients palm) they can be treated by a first aider. Any more than 5% you must seek medical assistance. If you have any doubts or concerns about the severity of any burns then get the advice of a medical professional.

minor burns

Superficial burns are not deep and only affect the top layer of skin. One of the most common forms of superficial burns is sunburn, or from minor domestic incidents.

The signs of minor burns and scalds include reddened skin, tenderness in the area of the burn, swelling and later blistering of the damaged skin. Blisters are sometimes formed after a burn injury, due to the tissue fluid leaking beneath the skins surface. workplace approved Training says never pop a blister as this increases the risk of infection in the wound. Usually blisters don’t need any first aid treatment, however if you suspect the blister may burst or if it breaks, you should cover the wound with a non-adhesive dressing for protection.

A first aider should treat a minor burn or scald by stopping the burning and relieving the pain and swelling. Always act in order to reduce the risk of infection.

Initially First Aid Classes teach you to douse the burnt area with cold water for a minimum of 10 minutes. This will act to both stop the burning, as well as easing the pain.

It is likely that the injured area will swell up, therefore you should remove any jewellery or clothing that may be restrictive. This would include rings, watches, belts or clothing not stuck to the wound.

Always wear disposable gloves if possible in order to reduce the risk of introducing infection to the wound. The area should be covered with a sterile dressing, or a clean, non-fluffy (so its doesn’t stick) pad and secure it with a loose bandage. If you don’t have a sterile dressing, you could temporarily use kitchen film or a plastic bag to cover the wound initially.

However, any burn to a child should be assessed by a medical professional, as well as all burns to the face, hands, feet or genital areas. St Mark James First Aid manual emphasises that if you are ever in any doubt, seek medical advice just in case.


First Aid Manual (The Authorised Manual of St. John Ambulance, St Andrew’s Ambulance Association and the British workplace approved), 2006.

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