First aid for burns and scalds

Burns and scalds are damage to the skin usually caused by heat. A burn is caused by dry heat – by an iron or fire, for example, whereas a scald is caused by something wet - such as hot water or steam.

First aid for burns and scalds

Good first aid following a burn or scald can make a huge difference to recovery times and the severity of scarring. To treat a minor burn or scald, follow the first aid advice below:

COOL the burn with running cool tap water for 20 minutes.  Remove any clothing, jewellery or nappies (unless melted or firmly stuck to the wound).  Do not apply ice, butter or toothpaste.

CALL for help – NHS 111 or local GP for advice. In an emergency dial 999.

COVER the cooled burn with loose cling film or a clean, non-fluffy cloth.  Keep the patient warm.

How to prevent burns and scald

The following advice can help reduce the likelihood of you, or your loved one, getting burnt:

  • Avoid overfilling kettles.
  • Keep kettles, irons, hair straighteners or wires out of reach, and away from children.
  • Make sure saucepan handles are always turned inwards to keep them out of children’s reach. 
  • Never leave cooking unattended. 
  • Set hot water thermostat to 46⁰, always run cold water into the bath first – test the temperature.