Everything You Need to Know About Hot Water Scalding Burns on Children
Written by Greg on December 13, 2019
Every year more than 500,000 people suffer scalding burns. Young children are at the highest risk for scalding water burns. While many of these burns can be treated with simple first aid, severe scalding water burns can lead to permanent disfigurement and even death. Most scalding water burns in children are preventable if you follow a few safety practices.
Leading Causes of Scalding Water Burns on Children
The most common causes of scalding water burns on children are:
- Sipping or spilling hot drinks
- Boiling liquids in pans or kettles pulled down by curious children
- Tap water set too high
Many scalding water burns are accidents. A child may pull down a cup of coffee or tea off of a table and spill it on themselves. Sometimes an adult will not realize how hot a beverage is, and a child will get scalding burns on their lips from a mug of hot cider or hot chocolate. Some scalding accident occurs because of daycare negligence when a child is not adequately supervised.
Another common scenario is a child will pull on a panhandle they see hanging over the edge of the stove and pour the scalding contents on top of their body. Older children may rush pass an oven and accidentally catch the handle of a pot and spill the contents on themselves.
Regular faucets can also cause scalding water burns. A child can burn their hands while trying to use the sink to wash their hands. A child may also receive a scalding burn while in the bathtub. A caretaker may fail to test the water temperature, or the child not being watched may turn on the faucet themselves and burn themselves.
Sadly, abuse and neglect are also leading causes of scalding water burns on children. Hot water should never be a form of discipline, and young children should never be left unattended in the bathtub or around the stove.
Why a Burn is so Dangerous for Children
Children’s skin burns more easily than an adult’s skin. Infants and young children are especially sensitive to different temperatures. Water relaxing to an adult may cause severe burns on a baby and require skin grafts and years of treatment.
Young children are naturally curious, and they are unstable in their mobility. This also contributes to them being more likely to experiencing scalding water burns. Children cannot remove themselves from the source of the burning, making them more likely to suffer third-degree burns.
A scalding burn may require years of painful treatments and leave behind permanent scars.
Because children are much smaller than an adult, even a scalding burn in a small surface area of skin can send their bodies into shock and cause secondary issues. A burn that may be less only than five percent of the skin surface area on an adult could be over fifty percent of the skin surface area on an infant.
What to Do After Your Child Has Been Burned
Many scalding burns can be treated with first aid. The first thing you need to do after a child has been burned is to remove whatever is causing the burn. Next, you will need to assess the seriousness of the burn. Take your child to get immediate medical attention if:
- The burn is larger than the size of their hand
- The skin where the child was burned becomes white or looks charred, regardless of the size of the burn
- Burns that cause blisters
- The burn oozes or looks infected
- The child develops a fever or seems weak
- The child doesn’t immediately feel any pain from the burn
If the scalding burn is superficial, it will cause immediate pain, and the skin will become pink or red. You can treat this burn at home. However, if the burn gets worse or the child develops the above symptoms later, you need to take the child to get immediate medical attention.
When treating a superficial hot water scalding burn on a child, immediately soak the skin in lukewarm water. Do not use cold water or ice on the burn. This can cause more damage to the skin. Keep the burn under the lukewarm water for five to fifteen minutes. The child should report that the burn feels a little better after the soaking, but they will still be in pain.
You can cover the burn with non-stick gauze. Do not cover the burn with grease, butter, or any ointment, unless directed to use an antibiotic ointment by your doctor.
You should pop no blisters.
You can give your child over the counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen under the directions on the packaging.
If you have questions about the burn or the treatment of the burn, consult with your pediatrician.
Safety Tips to Avoid Scalding Water Burns
Take steps to prevent accidental hot water scalding burns on your children. Some of the most important steps you can take are:
- Always ensure that panhandles are pointed towards the back of the stove, and not hanging over the edge
- Keep all hot drinks out of the reach of children
- Never leave children unattended in the kitchen
- Never leave children unattended in the bathtub
- Make sure the temperature of your water heater is set below 120°F
- Test the temperature of bathwater with your elbow
- Allow hot beverages to cool before giving them to children
- Use spill-proof lids for your hot beverages
While children under the age of five are the most at risk for hot water scalding burns, even older children and teenagers sometimes accidentally burn themselves.
Teach your children how to be safe in the kitchen. Make sure children understand how to use the stove and microwave safely. Also, teach your children what to do if they do burn themselves.
Investing the time in some basic safety practices and lessons could save your child’s life.
If your child was burned because of the negligence of another, call us for a no-obligation consultation about your rights and options. Call 281-587-1111!