If you or someone you know is scalded by boiling water, treating the injury as soon as possible is crucial. Severe scalds can cause extensive damage to the skin and underlying tissues and may require surgical treatment. In this post, we will discuss the steps that should be taken to treat a scald injury. We will also provide some tips for preventing such injuries in the future.
Boiling Water Scalds
Scalding is a thermal burn from hot liquids like boiling water and steam. Most scalds are first- or second-degree burns, but persistent contact can sometimes cause third-degree burns. A scald is a burn that has been left on the skin as a result of a hot liquid accident. In addition, scald wounds are burns that heal slowly and are brought on by wet heat. Although many burn cases may be handled at home, severe ones can be fatal.
In order to be prepared and knowledgeable when accidents result in burns or scalds, first aid training at Level 1/174 Gilles St, Adelaide 5000 can help treat affected people and prevent them from further harm. Contact CPR First Aid for more information.
Classification of Burns
Depending on how deeply and poorly a burn penetrates the skin’s surface, it is classified as a first, second, third, or fourth-degree burn. It might not be feasible to classify a burn right away when it happens. The full extent of the burn can be determined after a day or two because it can develop over time.
A type of burn that affects only the outer layer of skin, known as the epidermis. This kind of burn is typically not very serious and will heal on its own within a few days to a week.
It affects the epidermis and dermis, or outer and inner layers of skin. Second-degree burns are also called partial thickness burns. They cause:
It extends through all layers of the skin and into the underlying tissue. This type of burn is also called a full thickness burn. Third-degree burns can be severe and require immediate medical attention. The prognosis for a third-degree burn depends on the severity of the burn and how quickly it is treated.
This type of burn can be excruciating and may require extensive medical treatment. Fourth-degree burns can cause permanent damage to the skin and underlying tissues and may lead to disfigurement or amputation.
Common Accidents Resulting in Scalding
- Pouring hot liquids into a cold container – This can cause the container to crack or break, leading to scalding.
- Spilling hot liquids on yourself – This is one of the most common ways people scald themselves.
- Sitting or lying down in a hot bathtub – The heat from the water can cause serious burns.
- Touching a hot stove or other hot surfaces – This is another common way people scald themselves.
- Having hot liquids thrown at you – This can happen during a fight or an argument.
- Being in a car that catches fire
- Being in a house fire
- Working with hot liquids or materials – This is a common hazard for people who work in restaurants, factories, or other industrial settings.
- Exposing yourself to extremely hot temperatures – This can happen if you are in a sauna or steam room for too long.
- Being exposed to chemicals that cause burns – This can happen if you work with certain chemicals, such as acids or bases.
How Common Are Scalds in Australia?
Scalding is a serious hazard in the home, particularly for young children. In Australia and Adelaide, an estimated 4,000 hospitalisations are due to scalds each year. Of these, around one-third occur in children aged 0-4 years. Many simple measures can be taken to prevent scalding accidents in your home, such as:
- Keeping hot drinks and liquids out of reach of young children
- Never leave young children unattended around hot appliances or surfaces
- Checking the temperature of bath water before letting children into the tub
- Wearing protective clothing when handling hot liquids or working with hot appliances.
There are several treatments for scalds, depending on the severity of the burn.
Treatment for first-degree burns
The treatment is typically straightforward. The goal is to heal the skin and prevent infection. It can be done by cleaning the burn gently with soap and water, Applying a cool compress to the area, and keeping it clean and dry. In most cases, first-degree burns will heal within a week or two. However, if the burn is particularly large or painful, you may need to see a doctor for further treatment. Sometimes, first-degree burns require prescription antibiotics or other medications to heal correctly. Additionally, it is essential to protect the area from further injury by keeping it clean and covered with a sterile bandage.
Treatment for second-degree burns
The course of treatment for second-degree burns is determined by how severe the burn is. For less severe burns, the goal is to prevent infection and help the skin heal. It can be done at home by cleaning the wound, applying an antibiotic ointment, and wrapping the area with a sterile bandage. More severe burns may require hospitalisation and treatment by a doctor or burn specialist. Treatment may include:
- Cleaning the wound
- Applying an antibiotic ointment
- Wrapping the area with a sterile bandage
- Taking oral antibiotics
- Using a topical antibiotic cream or ointment
- Receiving intravenous (IV) fluids
- Undergoing a skin graft
Second-degree burns usually heal within 2 to 3 weeks. However, the skin may be permanently scarred.
Treatment for third-degree burns
The area may be covered with a sterile bandage or wrap for less severe burns. More severe burns may require skin grafting, a surgical procedure in which healthy skin is transplanted into the burned area. In some cases, artificial skin may also be used.
Treatment for fourth-degree burns
The course of the burn treatment for fourth-degree burns will depend on the extent and location of the burn. In most cases, fourth-degree burns require surgery to remove the damaged tissue and muscles. Skin grafts may also be necessary to help heal the area. Recovery from fourth-degree burns can be a long and challenging process, but most people can fully recover with proper treatment.
First Aid for Scalds
If a co-worker or a person in the community has been scalded by boiling water, it is vital to act quickly to cool the affected area and limit further damage.
- Remove any clothing or jewellery from the affected area.
- Run cool (not cold) water over the burn for 10-15 minutes.
- Apply a clean, cool cloth to the burn.
- Give the patient ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain reliever if needed.
- Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the burn if it is not a large area.
- Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage or wrap.
- Repeat steps 2-5 as needed for pain or swelling.
- Seek medical attention if the burn is extensive or severe or if you have any concerns.
It is also essential to avoid the following:
- Do not use ice, as this can further damage the tissue.
- Do not pop any blisters that may have formed.
- Do not apply home remedies such as butter, olive oil, or toothpaste to the burn.
- Do not pick at any dead skin that may be peeling off.
Most scalds will heal within a few days to a week with proper care. However, more serious burns may need medical treatment, resulting in consequences like infection or scarring. It is always best to seek professional medical help if you have any concerns.
Suppose you are interested in getting CPR and first aid certified to better equip yourself in emergency scenarios at school, workplace, home, or in the community. In that case, CPR First Aid (RTO 21903) can help you get the qualification you need. You can choose from any of our accredited and tailored Adelaide first aid courses, also offered in other SA locations or anywhere in the country near you.