A scald is caused by wet heat, such as hot water or steam. These burns, depending on the heat of the water, can cause first-, second-, or third-degree burns in seconds. It is imperative that you know proper first aid for burns and scalds to prevent the worsening of the burn and to minimize scarring.

What are the first steps to take for a scald?

The first step is to remove the body part from the thing that is burning it. For example, if a person has been scalded from being placed in a bathtub with hot water, remove the person from the bathtub. The longer the burning continues, the worse the scald will be. Be careful that you are not injured in the process of helping the person.

Immediately after, cool the scald by holding it under cool, clean running water for 10 to 15 minutes. This will stop the burning process. If you do not perform this step, a minor scald can develop into a serious scald rather quickly.

What should I be careful not to do for a scald?

Never use any of the following on a scald burn:

  • Butter and oil (can trap heat inside the burn and cause an infection)
  • Ointments (can trap heat inside the burn, can cause an allergic reaction)
  • Vinegar (can damage scalded tissue)
  • Ice or ice water (can damage tissue or cause the injured person to go into shock)
  • Raw meat
  • Meat tenderizer
  • Egg whites

Do not submerge large burns in cool or cold water. This could cause the person to go into shock.

How can I tell how bad my scald is?

A minor scald injury, also known as a superficial or first-degree scald, is one that is small and limited to the outermost layer of the skin. It will look no worse than a sunburn. It will not have blisters. If blisters develop at any time afterward, even the next day, it is not a first-degree scald.

All second-degree scald injuries should receive evaluation from a doctor or ER physician. Anything worse than a second-degree burn requires treatment in an ER or burn center.

Can a person go into shock from a bad scald?

Yes. A person can go into shock from a large or severe scald injury, because of fluid loss. Keep the person warm with a clean blanket or clothing. Be sure to keep the blanket or clothing off the scalded area. If they are not stuck to the scalded area, remove any jewelry or clothing near the wound, in case swelling develops.

Should you cover a scald injury after cooling it?

If you have a scald that is second-degree or more severe, the medical treatment team will evaluate whether a dressing is appropriate.

If you have a small superficial scald injury, you can make the decision about using a dressing based upon your circumstances. It may be best to use a dressing for a few days to prevent the scald wound from getting dirty, which could lead to infection. If you opt for a dressing (e.g., sterile gauze or sterile bandages), change it at least once a day to prevent infection.

What is the best thing to put on a scald injury?

You should not put anything on a scald injury until all the heat has dissipated. For a severe scald injury, your treatment team will decide if a burn ointment is appropriate.

If you have a small superficial scald, the choice is up to you. Some people opt to use burn ointments on scald injuries for topical pain relief. Burn ointments can provide the additional benefits of keeping the wound hydrated, relieving the itching that can accompany a scald injury, and preventing infection.

What if my scald burn was not my fault?

Sometimes, you simply make a mistake and knock over a pot of boiling water, causing a scald burn. In other cases, another party’s negligence or intentional act causes your scald burn injuries. If this is the case and you have a scald injury that was not your fault, you may have a claim.

Call our legal referral specialists at 844-549-8774 today for a lawyer who can help you.